Pre-diabetes is a condition that occurs before the onset of Type 2 diabetes. With proper lifestyle changes, a person usually can delay Type 2 or prevent it completely. A pre-diabetes diet is similar to those recommended for Type 2 diabetics, with healthy low-carbohydrate menus, along with an exercise program.
In pre-diabetes, fasting blood sugar levels are higher than normal, above 100 but below 125. Once a person's fasting blood sugar is 125 or higher, he or she is considered to have Type 2 diabetes. In Type 2 diabetes, the body's cells have become resistant to insulin, which raises blood glucose levels. Since most people with Type 2 are overweight, a pre-diabetes diet focuses on losing weight and maintaining a healthy lifestyle through proper nutrition and exercise.
In a study called the Diabetes Prevention Program, individuals who experienced 7 percent weight loss reduced their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by nearly 60 percent. This was a major research undertaking which included over 3,200 overweight participants from 27 clinical centers around the United States, all who had been diagnosed with pre-diabetes. One group adopted lifestyle changes including a low-calorie diet and moderate exercise, and this group delayed or completely prevented Type 2 significantly more often than the group given the pre-diabetes drug metformin instead.
A pre-diabetes diet includes carbohydrates which have a low glycemic value, meaning they are less likely to cause a spike in blood sugar. These foods include whole-wheat and other whole-grain breads and cereals, along with fruits and vegetables. People with pre-diabetes should avoid processed and refined foods, which means eliminating anything made with white flour or white sugar. Starches such as corn and bananas should be limited. When in doubt, avoid white foods. Sweet potatoes, whole-wheat pasta and brown rice are better options than their counterparts.
Fish, lean meat and non-fat or low-fat dairy products, along with legumes, are excellent protein sources. Turkey and chicken without the skin, and 90 percent lean beef, are good options. Fatty meat and whole milk products should be avoided.
A person with pre-diabetes might want to clear the house of any foods that are to be minimized or eliminated, and begin new by stocking the refrigerator and pantry with healthy foods. A change in cooking methods may be in the works as well. People with pre-diabetes should avoid deep-fried foods in favor of roasting, broiling, or grilling. Vegetables and lean meat can be stir-fried in canola or olive oil, and a sandwich with grilled chicken on whole-grain bread makes a perfect alternative to typical fast food fare.