Prediabetes Diet Questions Answered
Some commonly asked questions about prediabetes
Over the years, I have worked with many clients of Asian ethnicity with prediabetes and diabetes. I also have a strong family history of diabetes. Most of my clients are often looking to manage blood sugar, achieve hormonal balance, reduce stress, lose/gain some weight, and improve their energy levels. Our goals are to help them achieve a healthy lifestyle that is sustainable and joyful by building and fostering good habits they want to create and sustain.
In the following paragraphs, I have summarized the answers to the frequently asked questions including about a prediabetes diet, I have received as a nutrition educator over the years.
1. What is Prediabetes?
Prediabetes is a condition where blood sugar levels are higher than normal. People with prediabetes don’t process sugar in their body properly. Unmanaged prediabetes will lead to Type 2 diabetes.
When we eat and digest foods, we produce glucose that enters our bloodstream. Our pancreas secrets insulin, the hormone that allows sugar to enter our cells. When you have prediabetes, sugar builds up in your bloodstream instead of fueling your cells. Your pancreas may not make enough insulin, or your cells become resistant to insulin and don’t allow as much sugar into the cells.
Taking steps in adopting a healthy lifestyle, diet and exercise might help prevent or delay Type 2 diabetes.
2. What are the symptoms of prediabetes?
Although people with prediabetes might not have symptoms or vary from person to person, below are some symptoms that they might have:
- Increased thirst.
- Frequent urination.
- Increased hunger.
- Blurred vision.
- Numbness or tingling in the feet or hands.
- Frequent infections.
- Slow-healing sores.
3. What are the risk factors for prediabetes?
The risk factors of prediabetes are very similar to diabetes. Family history and genetics appear to play an important role.
- Overweight (fatty tissue around the abdomen tends to increase insulin resistance)
- Larger Waist sizes (for Caucasians, waists larger than 40 inches for men and larger than 35 inches for women. For Asians, waists larger than 38 inches for men and larger then 33 inches for women)
- A diet that contains highly processed meat and sugary food and beverages
- Physical Inactivity.
- Age of 45 years and above.
- Family history.
- Race or ethnicity (Black, Hispanic, East Indian, and Asian have higher risks)
- Gestational diabetes.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome
- Sleep apnea
- Smoking cigarettes.
4. Do I need to give up my favorite foods that are high in carbohydrate? Can I eat rice, noodles, bread, and congee?
You don’t need to give up your favorite foods to follow and maintain a prediabetes diet. You can still include rice, noodles, bread, and congee in your diet. You can focus on creating a balanced prediabetes diet of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, lean meats, plant-based protein, and healthy fats. You should increase more fiber which can benefit your digestive system and blood sugar management. Insulin sensitivity and resistance is commonly associated with prediabetes. Fiber in your diet can help manage blood sugar levels. It also can increase satisfaction and satiety and can help you achieve your personal best body weight.
5. Will physical activity and exercise benefit my blood glucose management?
Yes, absolutely. Physical activity and exercise will not only benefit your body weight, but also helps to increase energy, improve sleep and reduce stress.
6. How much physical activity and exercise do I need?
Regular physical activity and exercise means getting at least 150 minutes a week of medium-high strength exercises including brisk walking or cardio exercises. That’s just 30 minutes a day, five days a week.
7. How do I increase physical activity in daily life?
- Take the stairs instead of using the elevator
- Get off one bus stop earlier and walk home
- Park further away from your location
- Add exercises to your calendar and be faithful to stick to it
- Go for a walk or join a fitness class with your family/friend
8. Do I need to lose weight?
For some people, losing weight might help prevent or delay the onset of diabetes as fatty tissue in the muscle or around the abdomen tends to make increase insulin resistance.
9. How can I make better choices when eating out?
It is wise to find a restaurant that provides healthier menu options. Restaurant meals tend to be a bigger portion and might contain more calories, sodium, and sugary beverages. Why not share meals, order half portions, or pack a part of the meal to go? Having a small snack before going out to eat can increase satiety and prevent over-eating.
10. Any tips for travelling with prediabetes?
Planning ahead is the key to continuing to eat healthy while you are travelling. Bring or look for healthy food options such as fruits, nuts, salads with chicken or fish, eggs and omelets, burgers with lettuce wrap, low-fat dairy, or plant-based alternatives.
How can a dietitian help me?
A dietitian specializing in a prediabetes diet can help you set achievable and sustainable goals. We will set personalized and individualized goals based on your specific health goals and nutrient needs. A dietitian can guide, support, and motivate you to make lifelong changes through the power of food choices, good eating habits, and a healthier lifestyle.
Looking for more prediabetes diet and nutrition support?
If you are seeking private one-on-one nutrition support for prediabetes, type 1, or type 2 diabetes, we can help.
Working with a Diabetes Dietitian can help you with everyday healthy eating ideas, meal planning tips, strategies to figure out what factors influence your blood sugars other than food, and overall health prevention and prediabetes diet advice.
Find out more about our in-person Calgary and Virtual Diabetes Nutritionist services here.