If your doctor has told you that you have prediabetes, or you are borderline diabetic, you might be wondering what you can do to improve your health.
What is prediabetes?
Prediabetes is a serious health condition. When your blood sugars are higher than usual, but not high enough to be diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, you may be borderline diabetes. Prediabetes puts you at increased risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
The good news is that by making healthy lifestyle changes now, you can significantly reduce your risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes by quitting smoking, eating well, managing your weight and being more active.
Diabetes UK tell us that up to 50% of all diagnosed cases of Type 2 Diabetes can be prevented or delayed by making these healthy changes, and LiveWell Dorset is here to help get you started!
Eating well starts with a healthy, balanced diet including protein, carbohydrates and fats – yes you can still eat carbohydrates, but try and choose wholegrains and complex carbohydrates such as wholegrain bread instead of white, brown rice, wholewheat pasta, sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes and oats.
The NHS Eatwell Plate shows us how to eat these food groups in moderation.
Recommended foods to increase in your diet:
- Fibre – found in wholegrains, complex carbohydrates, fruit, vegetables, beans, lentils, pulses, nuts and seeds
- Lean proteins such as eggs, chicken, fish, turkey, beans, chickpeas and lentils
- Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables – fruit is safe to eat because the high fibre content slows down the digestion of sugar. It doesn’t matter if it is fresh or frozen!
Recommended food to limit in your diet:
- Red meat and processed meats such as hams, salami, bacon, sausages – the NHS website has more information on the recommended limits for meat in your diet.
- Refined carbohydrates such as white bread, white pasta, sugary snacks, sugary cereals and sugary drinks
- Highly saturated fat foods such as pastries, pies, puddings, cakes, butter and fatty meats – see this food fact sheet for more information on fats.
- Cut down on salt. Hidden salts can often be found in foods you are not expecting!
Don't get caught out by food labels
Knowing how to read and understand food packaging labels is going to be a big help. The NHS website tells us how to read food labels.
For simple guidance, look for the traffic light system on the front of the packaging. This tells you if a product is high (red), medium (amber) or low (green) in fat, saturated fat, sugar and salt:
Balanced Diet FAQs:
I’ve heard that I need to cut out carbs, is this true?
- According to the NHS, even with prediabetes it is important to include complex carbohydrates in your diet, but to have smaller portions spread evenly throughout the day to avoid getting a blood sugar spike and crash. See this PDF for more information.
Do I need to go on a fat free diet?
- Fat free foods are often higher in sugar which is not recommended for prediabetes. Try and swap saturated fats for unsaturated fats, and opting for smaller portions to help manage your weight.
I’ve heard I shouldn’t eat fruit as it is high in sugar?
- Sugary drinks and foods such as biscuits and sweets are high in sugar with very little fibre, causing our blood sugar levels to rise and fall dramatically when we eat them. This should be avoided where possible. Fruit on the other hand is full of fibre which slows digestion, and prevents the rise and fall of blood sugar levels. The Diabetes UK website recommends eating plenty of fruit and vegetables to reduce your risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes and to maintain a healthy weight.
Need more help with making healthy lifestyle changes?
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