One of the most effective ways to reverse prediabetes is by changing your diet.
Prediabetes is a health condition marked by abnormally high blood sugar levels that can eventually develop into type 2 diabetes if left untreated.
Moreover, prediabetes can lead to increased thirst and urination, headaches, and blurred vision, while also raising your risk of heart disease, metabolic disease, and stroke
Thankfully, it’s reversible with the right lifestyle changes, key among them being what you eat on a daily basis.
Note: Prediabetes is very common affecting an estimated 96 million adult Americans, or about one-third.
The point of a pre-diabetic diet is to lower your blood sugar levels so that your condition doesn’t progress to full-on diabetes, according to Justine Chan, a registered dietitian in private practice and certified diabetes educator. 
Below, Chan and other registered dietitians share some tips for what to eat and what to avoid on a prediabetic diet, as well as a handy 7-day sample meal plan to follow.
When trying to control blood sugar levels and prevent spikes, here are some general rules of thumb:
With that in mind, here’s a week-long meal plan to get you started. The meal plan is based on guidelines given to us by Dana Ellis Hunnes, PhD, a senior dietitian at UCLA medical center and author of Recipe For Survival.
Important: Keep in mind that the serving size for each of the following meals will vary depending on your age, height, weight, and overall caloric needs.
Breakfast: Steel-cut oatmeal with cinnamon, blueberries, and chopped walnuts
Lunch: Grilled vegetable sandwich on whole-grain bread
Dinner: Skinless chicken breast, roasted sweet potato, spinach salad with vinaigrette
Breakfast: Tofu scramble with vegetables, side of sliced oranges
Lunch: Tuna salad made with low-fat Greek yogurt and mustard over leafy greens, side of whole-grain crackers
Dinner: Whole-grain pasta with marinara and chicken or plant-based meatballs, side salad
Breakfast: Low-fat Greek yogurt with strawberries and slivered almonds
Lunch: Skinless turkey on a whole-grain wrap with avocado, lettuce, and tomato
Dinner: Tofu and broccoli stir-fry over quinoa
Breakfast: Avocado toast on whole-grain bread with one hard-boiled egg
Lunch: Chickpea and barley stew, apple on the side with skin left on
Dinner: Seared shrimp with pesto zucchini noodles
Breakfast: Whole-grain English muffin with peanut butter and sliced apple
Lunch: Greek salad with feta and chickpeas
Dinner: Chicken and black bean burrito bowl with lettuce, salsa, and guacamole
Breakfast: Sweet potato egg white hash with bell peppers and onion, side of half a grapefruit
Lunch: Whole-wheat pita pocket with hummus and vegetables
Dinner: Vegetarian chili topped with sliced avocado
Breakfast: Overnight chia seed pudding made with unsweetened almond milk and vanilla extract, and topped with strawberries
Lunch: Almond butter sandwich with a side of carrot, celery, and bell pepper sticks
Dinner: Grilled salmon over curried lentils, side of steamed or roasted cauliflower
The leading cause of prediabetes is insulin resistance. This means that your body no longer responds properly to insulin, a hormone that helps your cells use blood sugar for energy. As a result, your pancreas starts producing more insulin to get cells to respond, eventually leading to a rise in blood sugar. 
Ultra-processed foods are associated with insulin resistance and diabetes, in part because foods that are high in carbohydrates but low in fiber and protein can spike blood sugar levels and put extra stress on the pancreas. But it’s not just these simple carbs to blame.
Some processed foods high in saturated fat have been linked to increased insulin resistance, and sodium has been linked to a higher risk of developing diabetes
It’s also worth noting that consuming ultra-processed foods is associated with a higher risk of weight gain and obesity — one of the leading risk factors for prediabetes.
With that in mind, here are some foods that Chan and Hunnes advise avoiding while on a prediabetic diet:
A 2022 review found that eating more plant-based foods and fewer animal foods can result in lower insulin resistance and a lower risk of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. 
Both the Mediterranean and DASH diets emphasize fiber-packed, plant-based foods like vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts, olive oil, and seeds and therefore are a great guideline for your prediabetes diet, Hunnes says.
Moreover, a 2014 review found that higher adherence to the Mediterranean diet can reduce the risk of future diabetes by 19% to 23%.
Another 2014 review found that following the DASH diet is associated with a 20% reduced risk of future type 2 diabetes.
While Chan notes that the bulk of your calories should come from whole foods like vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and lean proteins, you can still allow yourself an occasional treat.
Below are some examples of healthy treats you can occasionally enjoy on a prediabetic diet, according to Chan:
As for how often you can enjoy these treats — your doctor or dietitian can help guide you, but as a general rule, try to limit your daily calories from sugar to about 5%. So for a 2,000 calorie diet, that would equate to 25 grams of sugar.
Here are some other tips to keep in mind while transitioning to a prediabetic diet:
Prediabetes is reversible, and the first step to lowering your blood sugar is making some changes to your eating habits. 
Specifically, dietitians say that avoiding processed foods, limiting your carb and sugar intake, increasing your fiber intake, and focusing on whole, plant-based foods can make a massive difference in treating insulin resistance and warding off type 2 diabetes.
Since everyone’s dietary needs may vary, it’s a good idea to talk with your doctor or a registered dietitian. These healthcare professionals can work with you to design a customized eating plan to improve your blood sugar levels.


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