If you’ve been diagnosed with prediabetes, you can prevent the progression to type 2 diabetes by modifying your diet and increasing your amount of physical activity.
Grace Derocha, RDN, CDCES, M.B.A.
National Spokesperson, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 1 in 3 American adults has prediabetes, a serious health condition in which blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes. Prediabetes also puts you at increased risk of developing heart disease and stroke.
A registered dietitian nutritionist can help treat people with prediabetes by providing medical nutrition therapy, which includes reviewing a person’s eating habits and lifestyle, assessing their nutritional status, and collaborating with them to create a personalized nutrition treatment plan.
Here are some recommendations to help prevent the development of type 2 diabetes if you’ve been diagnosed with prediabetes:
- Eat fiber-rich foods to help slow the absorption of sugars, lower blood sugar levels, and interfere with the absorption of dietary fat and cholesterol. Fiber-rich foods include fresh fruits, vegetables such as broccoli, legumes such as beans, and whole grains such as whole wheat bread.
- Eat unsaturated fats to promote healthy blood cholesterol levels and good heart health. Sources of unsaturated fats include olive oil, nuts and seeds, and fatty fish such as salmon and tuna.
- Drink water instead of sugar-sweetened drinks or liven up your water with natural sweeteners such as fruit.
- Eat lean protein foods, such as skinless poultry and fish, while limiting processed meats.
- Skip fad diets and make healthful food choices that you can follow in the long term. Lifestyle changes that focus on healthful eating and physical activity have been shown to prevent disease progression. A registered dietitian nutritionist can help you create an individualized food and physical activity plan to help you meet your health goals.
- Incorporate more physical activity into your day to control blood sugar levels. Aim for 30 minutes or more of moderate to vigorous physical activity such as brisk walking or running on most days for a total of at least 150 minutes a week. Include resistance exercises at least two to three times a week.
If you’ve been diagnosed with prediabetes, you don’t have to ban sweets or carbohydrates from the list of foods you eat. Desserts can be eaten, as long as you watch your portion sizes and limit sources of added sugars.
Plan regular, healthful, balanced meals and snacks which include whole-grain sources of carbohydrates along with lean-protein foods and healthy fats to help you avoid sudden blood sugar spikes.
For more information and personalized nutrition guidance, consult a registered dietitian nutritionist.