Eat smart, eat right – A healthy diet plan for pre-diabetes

healthy diet

A shout out to all our foodies! Love to indulge in something salty, sweet or savory? You certainly can but wouldn’t it be nice if you do not have to worry about what that indulgence will do. We do worry, but almost always after the fact.  A healthy diet goes a long way in effective management and reversal of pre-diabetes. There are so many things to consider. It can get overwhelming. Let’s try to make this easier for you.

Let’s look at a sample healthy diet plan along with some tasty options for various meals that do not bust those sugar levels.

Healthy Diet Plan

These are some simple guidelines to a healthy diet for all of us:

  • Drink enough water. Drink at least 8 to 10 glasses (which is 64 ounces or 1.8 liters) of water.
  • Space out your meals. Plan to eat moderate portions every 2 to 3 hours.
  • Try to eat at the same time every day.
  • Include at least 2 to 3 fresh fruits per day.
  • Each big meal must have some produce, some protein and some healthy fat.
  • Aroma, Flavor and Color are your meal’s three best friends.
  • Choose whole foods. Know what you are eating!
  • Avoid refined foods. The less processed the better!
  • Produce is a must! Add a salad as a side for lunch and dinner. Raw veggies are most nutritious.
  • Protein is perfect! Include 1 to 2 cups of protein (chicken or fish or lentils) for lunch and dinner
  • Include 2 cups of cooked non-starchy vegetables for lunch and dinner.
  • Healthy Fat is great! Fish, healthy cooking oil, nuts, avocados and coconut are great sources of healthy fat. Watch their serving sizes.
  • Restrict starchy sides to 1 to 2 servings per meal. It could be a cup of rice or noodles or pasta or 1 to 2 slices of bread.
  • Love that bread? Switch to light bread.
  • Try a fruit or a slice of cheese between two light breads or a cup of nuts for mid-day snacks
  • Keep an eye on serving sizes.
  • Enjoy 2 to 3 dairy based servings of non-fat or low-fat plain milk or yoghurt.
  • Limit caffeine intake after 2 PM.
  • Eating out? Watch for sugar and sodium content in your meals.

How do we know what to really look for? We will share more insights into processed foods and food labels and what to watch for in a future post.

Breakfast

berry filled breakfast for a healthy dietA colorful healthy start to your day kick starts your metabolism and sets the tone for a healthy diet being a part and parcel of your life. Breakfast must contain some protein, some fruits and a small portion of carbohydrates. We can mix and match up many delicious options for our early AM start:

  • 1 to 2 Egg Whites with a bowl of fresh and colorful berries
  • A cup of warm steel-cut oats paired with bright berries and with 1 to 2 egg whites
  • A quinoa fruit salad with 1 to 2 egg whites
  • An omelette with spinach, low-fat or fat-free cheese and scallions with a side of berries or fruit
  • A frittata of 1 to 2 egg whites with spinach, broccoli and mushrooms, paired with a bowl of berries
  • 2 slices of light bread with avocado, tomatoes, 2 egg whites, cucumber and cilantro
  • 1 to 3 Scrambled egg whites with an orange or two mandarins or two clementines
  • A cup of warm steel-cut oats with ground flaxseed, ground chia with, 1 to 2 egg whites, 1 cup of berries or 1 medium orange or apple

Add one of these beverages for a refreshing start to your day:

  • A cup of warm tea or coffee with non-fat or low-fat milk
  • A glass of non-fat or low-fat milk
  • A cup of warm green tea
  • A glass of freshly squeezed juice. Whole fruits are preferable as is. If you must have a juice, it would be best to squeeze it fresh. Like to add that glass of orange juice from a carton? It may not be as natural or freshly squeezed from real fruit as it seems. Orange juice from the carton is still quite highly processed.

Avoid processed breakfast foods such as cereals or instant oatmeal.

Snacks or Mid Meal Bites

snack on almonds for a healthy dietPlan to have 2 to 3 snacks mid-morning, afternoon and early evening. Snack portions must be between 100 to 200 calories. Watch these limits for nutritional value: 20 g for carbohydrates, 8 g for sugar and 150 mg for sodium. These mid-day mini meal options fit the bill:

  • Any fresh fruit with a low glycemic load
  • A slice of non-fat or low-fat cheese with two pieces of light bread
  • Cup of 15 to 20 almonds
  • Small pack of baked potato chips
  • Cup of 20 to 30 pistachios
  • Small pack of low sodium pretzels
  • Baby carrots and half cup of humus
  • 6 to 12 low sodium crackers and cheese
  • A small apple and 1 mini babybel cheese
  • Cup of non-fat plain yoghurt and cinnamon
  • A glass of coconut water

Find yourself craving for more? Look at some techniques to overcome food craving.

Now that we have satisfied those mid day cravings, let’s look at what’s coming up for lunch!

Lunch or Dinner

salad for a healthy diet Your two big meals for the day bring a colorful salad, yummy protein, veggies, healthy fat and some starch to your table. Try your hand at flavorful spices to make your meals more interesting.

  • Start your meal with a nice colorful salad filled with greens, carrots, beet, a sprinkle of non-fat cheese and apples or oranges. Skip the dressing. Opt for some zesty lime instead. Add edamame or avocado.
  • Add some protein.
    • If you like meat, choose between grilled or curried chicken or fish or a skewer of kebabs.
    • Don’t like meat? Try a cup of cooked lentils, beans or chickpeas instead. Spice it up!
    • No time for spicy treats? Add 2 boiled eggs or unsweetened dairy!
  • Include a side of cooked non starchy vegetables. Saute them with light olive oil and seasoning or spice them up as well!
  • Try out spices in moderation. It could be turmeric, red chilli, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, clove or cardamom. Or you can try to go tangy with mango or asafoetida powder.
  • Add some garlic or ginger
  • Try some basil or parsley to enhance your grilled fish or chicken
  • Sprinkle fresh cilantro or mint on your salad or your lentil soup
  • Keep an eye on the sugar or sodium content of condiments. It applies to all seasonings, dressings and sauces.

Try to keep lunch and dinner as light as possible. Moderate and well-balanced meals prevent blood sugar spikes. On a busy schedule? Buy chopped vegetables to help speed up cooking.

Alcohol

limit alcohol intake for a healthy dietIf you can skip alcohol, that would be the best. However, if you do enjoy a drink or two, here are some useful tips to keep that sugar high at bay:

  • If you are a wine connoisseur, stick to a serving of less than 8 ounces, which will have 4 g of carbohydrates for red wine or 8 g of carbohydrates for white wine.
  • If you enjoy cocktails, aim for clear fluids flavored with natural fruit or herbs. Try and avoid them if possible as it may be difficult to control carbohydrate influx from cocktails.
  • If you like beer, opt for light beers. Aim for a quantity of less 12 ounces, which will have about 5 g of carbohydrates.
  • If you like the hard stuff, choose an option with the lowest proof and alcohol content. Aim for a single peg for any of them – scotch, rum, gin, tequila, vodka, cognac or brandy.

Dessert

dark chocolate for a healthy dietOooh, here comes our favorite part! A healthy diet to help manage pre-diabetes without dessert? Whatever for! Let’s look at some delicious treats that do not bust our sugar levels.

  • 2 to 4 small cubes of dark chocolate 
  • Bunch of colorful berries
  • Non-fat or low-fat plain yogurt flavored with nutmeg or cinnamon
  • Cup of sweet oranges
  • Fistful of red cherries
  • Cup of fresh fruit

Many bakeries and stores now offer mini bites or treats that we can pick sizes for. If you love chocolate, opt for dark chocolate. Be mindful of “fun sized” and “mini” chocolates. Sugar levels vary wildly based on serving sizes and brand. Watch for those unconscious sugary food cravings and try these tips to overcome them. Choose small portions of treats without icing or whipped cream. Wise choices in the dessert department are key to a healthy diet for pre-diabetes.

So there, you don’t have to go on a crash diet or live on boiled vegetables. Try these tips out to make a flavor filled healthy diet a part and parcel of your life. It is one of the key factors to help maintain a healthy weight and regulate sugar levels. Before you make a change, please do consult a registered dietician or a healthcare provider for your specific diet plan.

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