Remarkably, it is estimated that 86 million people in the United States have prediabetes, a condition diagnosed with a fasting blood glucose level of 100-125 mg/dl.
While levels in this “borderline” range don’t necessarily mean that you will develop Type 2 diabetes at some point, they do put you at increased risk. But once you have received a prediabetes diagnosis, your future health, in part, depends on how you live the rest of your life.
Three key components can help you reverse a prediabetes diagnosis:
Healthful food choices with a moderate intake of carbohydrate-containing foods
Achieving and maintaining a lean weight
Daily activity or exercise
Getting your blood glucose levels back into the normal range, and keeping you away from a prediabetes diagnosis in the first place, can be as simple as what you put into your grocery cart each week. Selecting foods that don’t spike your blood glucose levels is important. Avoiding overeating is also critical.
Carbohydrate-containing foods have the greatest impact on glucose levels, with the potential to send your glucose readings soaring after meals. Such spikes can be very stressful to the pancreas, the organ that produces the insulin that helps regulate your glucose levels. With continued, long-term stress, the pancreas eventually may stop producing enough insulin to keep your glucose levels in the normal, healthy range.
To avoid these types of spikes, planning weekly menus before you grocery shop can be helpful. Put these healthy foods at the top of your grocery shopping list when you can:
Fresh:apples, berries (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries), cherries, grapes, grapefruit, oranges, peaches, pears, plums
Frozen: berries, peach slices
Vegetables (fresh, frozen or unsalted canned):
Asparagus, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, greens (including spinach and kale), green beans, lettuce, mushrooms, onions, peppers, squash, tomatoes
Sweet potatoes and yams, dry and canned beans and peas (black beans, kidney beans, navy beans, pinto beans, white beans, black-eyed peas, lentils, split peas, hummus/chickpea dip)
Breads (rolls, pita pockets and tortillas):
Whole wheat, oatmeal, multigrain, pumpernickel and sourdough
Cereals (hot or cold):
Whole oats (rolled oats, Cheerios), whole barley (Grape-Nuts), whole wheat (bran flakes)
Pasta (regular, multigrain, whole-wheat), brown rice, wild rice, long-grain white rice, barley, quinoa
Nuts and nut butters, cheese, fish (fresh, frozen and canned), poultry, lean red meats (beef, pork, lamb, veal)
Oils (olive, canola, grapeseed)
In addition to putting the right ingredients in your cart, here are some other helpful tips for keeping your glucose readings in good shape:
Be sure to eat three moderate-sized meals each day. Having just one or two larger meals may cause glucose levels to rise too high afterward, unnecessarily taxing the pancreas.
Small between-meal snacks can help you get to the next meal without being overly hungry. The following snacks, which contain about 15-20 grams of carbohydrates, are perfect choices: a small to medium piece of fresh fruit, a handful of nuts, almond butter or peanut butter on 3-4 whole-grain crackers, Greek yogurt, a cheesy melt on a multigrain English muffin half, peanut butter on celery sticks, or a small oat bran muffin.
Enjoy most of your meals at home, with dishes made from scratch. This lets you control the ingredients you add to your recipes, keeping sugar and sweet ingredients to a minimum.
Keep up with your doctor appointments, so glucose levels can be checked as recommended.
Understand the Numbers!
Normal Prediabetes Diabetes
Fasting glucose: 99 mg/dl or lower 100-125 mg/dl 126 mg/dl or higher
Hemoglobin A1C: 5.6% or lower 5.7-6.4% 6.5% or higher
Reference: The American Diabetes Association or www.diabetes.org
Menu for Reversing Prediabetes
Rolled oats cooked in 1% milk, topped with chopped pecans and frozen blackberries
Tuna fish salad made with mayonnaise, chopped celery and diced onion on multigrain sourdough bread
Garden-fresh tomato and cucumber slices with vinaigrette dressing
1 square dark chocolate
Hummus with assorted raw vegetables, including carrot and celery sticks, zucchini strips, and cherry tomatoes
• Dinner on the Grill
Salmon, brushed with olive oil and topped with fresh dill
Foil-wrapped baked sweet potato halves
Fresh-from-the-garden grilled squash slices, brushed with olive oil
Assorted summertime berries topped with Greek vanilla yogurt
Muenster cheese on Triscuit whole-grain crackers
Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital and Sentara RMH Medical Center both host classes for patients who have received a prediabetes diagnosis.
FREE Prediabetes Supermarket Smarts Class
Giant Food, Charlottesville
Taught by Rita Smith, RD, CDE
Monday, Aug. 14 6:30-7:30 p.m.
Tuesday, Sept. 12 9-10 a.m.
Sentara RMH Medical Center offers diabetes prevention classes throughout the year in several locations in and around Harrisonburg. To find out more, call 1-800-SENTARA.
Oatmeal Pancakes with Berries
Prep. time: 15 minutes; Cook time: 5-6 minutes per batch
1 cup white wheat flour
1/2 cup uncooked quick-cooking dry oats
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup fat-free milk
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 teaspoons canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup summer fresh berries
In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, oats, brown sugar, baking powder and cinnamon.
In a smaller bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, applesauce, oil and vanilla extract. Pour into the flour mixture and gently stir, just until moistened. Gently fold in the berries. Do not overmix, or the pancakes will be tough.
Lightly spray a nonstick skillet with cooking spray. Heat over medium heat. Pour batter onto the skillet to make 4 pancakes. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until bubbles appear on top. Turn pancakes over. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown. Repeat with remaining batter. Makes 8 pancakes.
To serve: Sprinkle pancakes with fresh berries, then drizzle lightly with syrup.
Prep. time: 20 minutes
3 cups packed baby spinach
4 cups diced cooked beets
2 cups grapefruit sections, jarred, liquid drained
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
In a large salad bowl, toss together the fruits and vegetables. Add vinegar and oil; toss together until blended. Makes 3 servings.
Fresh Garden Gazpacho Pasta Salad
Prep. time: 20 minutes
1 1/3 cups cooked whole wheat
or vegetable penne pasta
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1 small cucumber, peeled and diced
1 medium green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
1 tablespoon tomato juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon crushed dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
In a large serving bowl, combine cooked penne pasta and vegetables.
In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients: tomato juice, vinegar, olive oil and seasonings (except basil).
Add the dressing to the pasta salad and toss together. Sprinkle with fresh basil. Makes 4 servings