In the United States, over 1 in 3 adults has pre-diabetes. Pre-diabetes is a condition where blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.
With this being said, it is important for people with pre-diabetes to understand how their diet may affect them and what they can do to improve their health.
Here, we'll discuss why balancing your blood sugar level is important when you have pre-diabetes as well as some simple changes that you should make if you want to get your blood sugars back into a healthy range.
What Is Pre-Diabetes, According to the American Diabetes Association?
Most people think that when you are diagnosed with pre-diabetes, everything stops. You are not allowed to eat most of the food you used to eat before because you have to watch your blood sugar levels.
So, you're forced to say goodbye to chocolates, sweets, junk food, and fast-food offerings, along with other sweet treats. A lot of people think that they can no longer eat anything with sugar in it because it might spike their blood sugar and ruin their diet.
Pre-diabetes is a condition that you might experience in your life. According to the American Diabetes Association, pre-diabetes is defined as an elevated blood sugar level (glucose) that is typically caused by insulin resistance.
What Is Insulin Resistance?
Insulin resistance happens when the body's insulin function isn't working properly. It's typically an early symptom of Type 2 diabetes.
The American Diabetes Association says 1 in 3 American adults has pre-diabetes, which means their blood glucose (sugar) level is higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Both conditions are caused by insulin dysregulation, namely insulin resistance.
In healthy people, insulin is the hormone that helps stimulate cells to use the glucose (sugar) in the blood. When cells are constantly exposed to high levels of insulin, they become less sensitive to its effects, resulting in insulin resistance. This leads to a variety of metabolic problems.
Prediabetes vs Diabetes
Nonetheless, it is important to note that just because you have prediabetes does not mean you will develop diabetes. With the right lifestyle changes, it is possible to reverse prediabetes.
How Does Diabetes Develop?
Diabetes usually develops when the cells become resistant to insulin and cannot absorb more sugar from the bloodstream. People who suffer from prediabetes are likely to develop diabetes if they have a poor lifestyle and consume foods with a high glycemic index.
Testing Blood Sugar Levels and Prediabetes
Additionally, you might have to undergo a blood test every now and then to check if your sugar levels are normal or if you are experiencing impaired glucose tolerance. The thought of having a blood test can probably make you wince, but trust us, it is just done for the blood glucose and nothing else.
Diet and Prediabetes
Now, contrary to popular belief, you are still allowed to eat carbs, although your carbohydrate intake must be checked and reduced to smaller portions than those you used to have before.
If you have prediabetes, then you need to understand how diet can affect your health and what changes should be made if you want your blood sugar back at a healthy range.
How Should You Maintain or Balance Your Blood Sugar Levels?
You might be thinking: why do I need to maintain my blood sugar levels when I can rely on insulin shots to do the work? It is because insulin shots are not enough. You need to make dietary changes as well so that you can balance your blood sugar levels. Too much sugar in your bloodstream can cause a lot of damage to your body, such as nerve and kidney damage. Other than that, insulin is not enough because it fails to provide a long-term solution for keeping blood sugar levels balanced.
If you have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes, it is best to work on balancing your blood sugar levels now before it progresses. This means making small but significant changes to your diet and lifestyle, which can go a long way in preventing the onset of this chronic disease. Remember, early diagnosis leads to easier treatment – so don’t wait until it is too late!
11 Ways To Balance Blood Sugar With Diet
And so without further ado, here are some tips on how to balance your blood sugar levels when you have pre-diabetes
1. Healthy Carbs
- Eat carbohydrates that are low in cholesterol and saturated fat content to help regulate your insulin and blood sugar levels. This means eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, lean meats, and fish instead of red meat.
2. Minimize Saturated Fat Intake
- Go for healthier options like steamed or broiled chicken dishes. This will also help you limit your saturated fat intake.
3. Switch To A High-Fiber Diet
- Eating fiber-rich foods like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables can help regulate blood sugar levels because they are slowly digested by the body which means they are less likely to cause sudden spikes in your blood glucose levels.
4. Practice Healthy Cooking Methods
- To reduce unnecessary fats in your meals bake, grill, or steam instead of frying. You can also opt for nonstick pans that require minimal use of oil during the cooking process.
5. Pair fast carbohydrates
- Starchy carbs and processed foods that contain refined carbs convert to glucose so quickly the body can’t respond fast enough. Mindfully pairing them on your plate with healthy protein, fat, and fiber will keep you satiated and may also help reduce a glucose spike.
6. Avoid the bad habits
- Refrain from smoking and drinking alcohol if you can. Moderate amounts of alcohol may cause blood sugar to rise, drinking heavily can cause an increase in insulin production. Substances form when alcohol breaks down in the liver. These substances block the liver from making new glucose which can lead to low blood sugar.
7. Eat more low glycemic index foods
- Phytonutrient-rich low glycemic index foods are high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals such as beans, green tea, and apples. By eating phytonutrient-rich low glycemic index foods, you allow your body’s cells to absorb more sugar from the bloodstream, which can prevent insulin resistance.
8. Limit your salt intake
- Too much sodium can cause bloating which leads to high blood pressure and increases the risk for heart disease and stroke.
9. Choose lower-calorie foods
- If you are into a comfort food that's usually high in calories and fat, opt for lower-calorie but nutrient-packed meals instead of high-calorie foods. It would be best to eat whole-grain slices of bread or baked goods since they have a lower glycemic index compared to white bread or even brown rice.
10. Limit saturated fat
- Limit saturated fat intake, which crosses processed and fast-food meals out of the list. Instead, you are encouraged to eat lean meats as a part of a healthy diet.
11. Avoid sugary drinks
- Avoid sugary drinks like sodas and artificially flavored juices.
Ways To Balance Blood Sugar With Exercise and Sleep
- Get sufficient sleep at least seven hours every night so you will be ready for the next day’s activities without feeling tired or exhausted. Trust us, you will feel better when your body can rejuvenate itself with enough rest.
- Exercise regularly at least 30 minutes per day. This will help your body use up the glucose in your bloodstream instead of allowing it to be stored as fat tissue. Opt for cardiovascular exercises like running, jogging, swimming, biking, or playing sports. This will further help your muscles use more glucose for energy, so they won’t need to store it as glycogen.
- Reduce stress in your daily life by practicing relaxation techniques like yoga, deep breathing, or meditation.
- Monitor your blood sugar levels regularly using a glucose meter so you can track how the dietary changes are affecting your blood sugar levels.
These are just a few ways to help you achieve balanced blood sugar levels when you have pre-diabetes. Remember, it is not impossible to manage and even reverse pre-diabetes, but it would be best if you can make these adjustments to control your blood glucose levels and make it more manageable.
If you start embracing a healthy lifestyle, you can reduce the risk of developing diabetes, as well as digestive and kidney diseases.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 84 million Americans have pre-diabetes. What is alarming though is that 90% of those affected don't realize it.
Balancing your blood glucose levels is vital because this means preventing the onset of diabetes later in life. If you can manage your blood sugar levels now, you are less likely to suffer from the serious complications that come with diabetes, such as heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, blindness, and nerve damage.
Pre-diabetes is a serious condition that should not be taken lightly. By making simple changes to your diet and lifestyle, you can avoid developing full-blown diabetes, or even reverse pre-diabetes.
Nevertheless, if you are already struggling with pre-diabetes, make the following changes to your diet and make sure to get medical help as soon as possible or sign up for a diabetes prevention program to come up with a diet plan that will work specifically for you.