The Mayo Clinic estimates that people with prediabetes (or borderline diabetes) are much more likely to develop type 2 diabetes within 10 years. While a diagnosis of pre- diabetes is not a definitive sign you will eventually develop the condition, it is a clear warning that if you don’t make some changes in your life, you are at a high risk of eventually having full-blown diabetes. Pay attention and adjust course.
In prediabetes, sugar from food begins to build up in your bloodstream because insulin can’t easily move it into your cells. For most people with prediabetes, the body has a difficult time lowering blood sugar levels after meals. Eating carbohydrates doesn’t cause prediabetes, but the amount and type of carbohydrates consumed in a meal does influence blood sugar. A diet filled with refined and processed carbohydrates that digest quickly can cause higher spikes in blood sugar. You can’t change all of the factors that can contribute to your risk of type 2 diabetes, but you can adjust your diet to improve your odds to reverse the threat of developing the condition.
Rank your carbs on the glycemic index.
The glycemic index (GI) is a tool you can use to determine how a particular food might affect your blood sugar. Foods that are high on the GI will raise your blood sugar faster. Foods ranked lower on the scale have less effect on your blood sugar spike.
Refined carbohydrates, that digest quickly in your stomach rank high on the GI. Examples include white bread, white potatoes, and white rice, along with soda and juice. Limit these foods whenever possible if you have prediabetes.
Foods that rank medium on the GI are fine to eat, but not as good for managing blood sugar as foods that rank low on the GI. Examples include whole wheat bread and brown rice.
Food and nutrition labels don’t list the GI, but the fiber content listed can help you determine a food’s GI ranking. To balance the overall GI of your meals mix higher GI foods with those ranked lower on the scale For example, if you plan to eat white rice, add vegetables and chicken to slow down the digestion of the grain and minimize blood sugar spikes.
Good portion control can keep your diet on the low GI. When possible, follow the recommended serving size on food labels and practice self-control when serving your plate. The USDA’s My Plate recommends that you fill half of your plate with fruits and vegetables, the other half of your plate should be divided equally between protein and grains (preferably whole grains). The National Institute of Health and The Mayo Clinic recommend that 45–65 percent of your calories come from carbohydrates daily.
One of the best methods to manage portions is to practice mindful eating. Eat when you are hungry. Stop when you are full. Sit, and eat slowly. Focus on the food and flavors.
Fiber helps you feel fuller longer and adds bulk to your diet, making bowel movements easier to pass. Eating fiber-rich foods can help you eat less since you feel fuller faster. They also help you avoid the “crash” that can come from eating high-sugar foods, which may give you a big boost of energy at first, but make you feel tired shortly after. High-fiber foods include:
A single, 12-ounce can of soda can contain 45 grams of carbohydrates. That number is the recommended carbohydrate serving for a meal for women with diabetes. And, sugary sodas only offer empty calories that translate to quick-digesting carbohydrates.
Consume alcoholic beverages in moderation. Many alcoholic beverages are dehydrating, high in calories, and some cocktails may contain high sugar levels that can spike your blood sugar. Avoid adding sugary juices or liqueurs. Keep a glass of water nearby that you can sip on to prevent dehydration.
Meat doesn’t contain carbohydrates, but it can be a significant source of saturated fat. Eating a lot of fatty meat can lead to high cholesterol levels. If you have prediabetes, a diet low in saturated fat and trans fat can help reduce your risk of heart disease. Avoid cuts of meat with visible fat or skin. Choose protein sources such as the following:
Very lean cuts of meat have about 0 to 1 gram of fat and 35 calories per ounce. High-fat meat choices, such as spareribs, can have more than 7 grams of fat and 100 calories per ounce.
Water is a very important part of any healthy diet. Drink enough water each day to keep you from becoming dehydrated. If you have prediabetes, water is a healthier alternative than sugary sodas, juices, and energy drinks.