A prediabetes diagnosis can be scary, especially if you don’t know much about the disease. However, getting diagnosed with prediabetes can actually be a benefit to you because it allows you to change your habits before this disease turns into type 2 diabetes. One of the best ways to do that is to improve your eating habits. Here are some tips to improve your diet and help you prevent future health complications.
First, what exactly is prediabetes?
Prediabetes is a health condition that occurs when someone has abnormally high blood sugar levels, but not so high as to be considered type 2 diabetes. This is usually because the body has become resistant to insulin, the hormone that regulates blood sugar. Insulin resistance is usually brought on from carrying excess weight in the body. Although, you don’t have to be obese to be at risk for prediabetes. Dietary choices also play a huge role in your risk of developing diabetes.
A healthy prediabetic diet isn’t much different from any other healthy diet. The key is to be more conscious about the things you eat in order to control your blood sugar levels. Here are some tips to help you make better dietary choices.
1. Start by adding things to your diet rather than taking things away.
Traditional African American diets are usually high in carbohydrates and low in fiber, which makes them more susceptible to developing insulin insensitivity. But instead of trying to completely cut out your favorite foods, work to incorporate healthier foods into your diet.
A well-balanced diet is just that— well-balanced. This means you should be consuming an equal mix of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, healthy fats, and lean proteins. Every meal you eat should have something from at least four of these six groups. The more healthy foods you eat throughout the day, the less room you will have for foods that aren’t as healthy for you.
2. Avoid foods with a high glycemic index.
Once you’ve gotten used to eating healthier foods, you can start actively avoiding foods that aren’t so good for you. While you’re working to create a more balanced diet, try to steer away from foods that have a high glycemic index, which ranks carbohydrates according to the extent to which they raise blood sugar levels. Foods with high GI values, like refined carbs found in white bread, sugar, and pre-packaged foods create spikes in your blood sugar levels, which contributes to insulin insensitivity. These foods also promote weight gain in the body, which makes it more likely for your prediabetes to turn into type 2 diabetes in the future. Instead, look for foods that have lower GI scores, like whole-wheat options.
Swapping high GI carbohydrates for low GI carbohydrates also makes it easier for you to manage your weight. Just a 5-7 percent reduction of body weight can significantly reduce your chances of developing diabetes. It’s important to remember that you don’t want to completely eliminate carbs from your diet, as this can lead to malnourishment and can actually make it more difficult for you to lose weight. If you’re unsure of what steps you need to take to change your diet, you can try signing up for a scientifically-proven weight loss program, like Weight Watchers, that can assist you in creating healthier eating habits to prevent future health complications.
3. Maintain a consistent eating schedule.
A consistent eating schedule helps to regulate your body’s blood sugar levels. A skipped meal results in your body’s blood sugar dropping lower than normal, which in the short term makes you irritable and fatigued and in the long term can slow down your metabolism, and in turn hinders weight loss. Your blood sugar levels spike the next time that you do eat, which makes it more likely that you will become resistant to your body’s insulin. This is why it’s important for those who have prediabetes to stick to a consistent eating schedule by eating several small, healthy meals throughout the day.
If you’re someone who has trouble finding consistency every day, try mentally planning your meals when you wake up in the morning. Have an idea for what you plan on eating for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and figure out when you’ll have time to eat. You can also set an alarm on your phone to remind you.
This habit will help keep food on your brain so that way you can remember to eat consistently. It also helps to carry snacks with you so that you can still eat even if you’re too busy to stop and get something or if you couldn’t make a meal ahead of time. Try for snacks that are both portable and high in protein to keep you full throughout the day.
4. Remember to exercise.
Diet and exercise go hand in hand when working to prevent diabetes. Exercise helps reduce blood sugar levels and makes your body more sensitive to insulin. While exercise alone won’t prevent you from developing diabetes, it’s a very useful tool when paired with healthy diet practices. Work to incorporate at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day into your schedule.
This activity can be as simple as taking a walk after lunch or deep cleaning your house. Enlist the help of your friends and family to do more physical activities with you or find a support group if you lack the motivation yourself. Remember, every healthy habit you form can be the difference between you getting rid of your prediabetes or developing type 2 diabetes. Following these tips, as well as the instructions provided to you by your doctor, can lead to a healthy, happy life.