Prediabetes is a condition where your blood sugars are higher than normal, and it can progress to type 2 diabetes if no lifestyle changes are made. Getting diagnosed with prediabetes can be overwhelming and may leave you with many questions, like "What changes should I make?" and "Where do I start?" In this easy plan, we take care of the nutrition by mapping out 7 days of delicious meals and snacks that will help you maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Because weight loss plays an important role in lowering blood sugars and preventing diabetes, we capped this plan at 1,200 calories per day to promote a healthy weight loss of 1 to 2 pounds per week. Looking for a different calorie level? See this same plan at 1,500 and 2,000 calories.
Learn More: 7 Simple Ways to Reverse Prediabetes
To keep you feeling full on fewer calories and to keep your blood sugars in check, each day has at least 30 grams of fiber from whole grains, legumes and fresh produce. Fiber helps to slow down digestion, which is why you'll feel fuller when eating more of it. At the same time, that slow digestion means the glucose from food will reach your bloodstream at a more gradual pace. Plus, we included plenty of lean protein from chicken, turkey and fish, and a balanced amount of carbohydrates at all meals and snacks to keep blood sugars stable. Regular physical activity is another important lifestyle change that can help lower your blood sugars and reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Including 30 minutes of walking most days, or at least 150 minutes of moderate activity per week, can have a big impact.
A little meal prep at the beginning of the week can go a long way to make the week ahead easier.
Prediabetes Tip: In the Cucumber Turkey Sub Sandwich, we substitute a cucumber instead of a sub roll for a veggie-packed twist on a classic sandwich. It's a great way to enjoy a lower-carb sandwich and, as a bonus, it also saves on calories. It's totally fine to have bread when you have prediabetes, but the rolls for subs, hoagies, grinders—whatever you want to call them—tend to have more carbs than what's recommended for a single meal. When you're really craving a sub, go for a smaller 4-inch sub and load up the rest of your plate with veggies to help balance things out and keep your blood sugar levels from going too high.
Prediabetes Tip: Managing prediabetes and preventing diabetes is all about lifestyle changes and developing healthy habits. Starting a walking routine is often more sustainable than trying to go too hard at the gym. Walking with your family after dinner or during your lunch break is a great way to start. Try to build up to 30 minutes or more a day of physical activity. Moving your body as much as you can helps lower sugars and prevent diabetes. Read more: How to Get 150 Minutes of Exercise a Day Without Going to the Gym
Meal-Prep Tip: Hard-boil 1 egg to have as a snack tomorrow.
Prediabetes Tip: You'll see raspberries as snacks quite a bit in this healthy plan. Here's why—berries, like raspberries and blackberries, are higher in fiber than most fruits. Fiber helps keep us full and is digested slowly, which helps keep blood sugar stable. Because it's so filling, it's more likely to ward off overeating and late-night hunger pangs.
Prediabetes Tip: Because it rarely has symptoms, prediabetes can be difficult to diagnose. If you're overweight, had gestational diabetes in pregnancy or if you have family members with diabetes or prediabetes, then you're at increased risk for high blood sugars and should discuss this with your medical provider. And just remember, prediabetes doesn't always lead to type 2 diabetes—taking the right steps can set you on a different path toward a healthier you.
Prediabetes Tip: It can be difficult to find the time to make a healthy breakfast during busy mornings, but it's well worth it! When we skip breakfast, we often overeat at lunch or make less healthy food choices because we let ourselves get too hungry. Overnight oats are a great solution. They lend themselves to many flavor combinations, take minimal time to prepare and are portable. If oatmeal isn't your thing, there are plenty of other tasty make-ahead breakfast recipes to try, like baked egg muffins, smoothie packs and freezer breakfast burritos.
Prediabetes Tip: One of the quickest ways to drastically reduce sugar in your diet is to limit sugary drinks, like soda, juice, sports drinks and sweet tea. Drinks with natural sugar, like fruit juice, still spike our blood sugars. Sticking to water, seltzer and unsweetened tea as much as possible helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels. If you regularly drink sweetened beverages, changing to low-sugar or diet options first can make the shift to no-sugar-added drinks feel more doable.
Meal-Prep Tip: Prepare the full recipe of Curried Chicken Apple Wraps and save half the chicken salad for lunch tomorrow.
P.M. Snack (108 calories)
Daily Totals: 1,202 calories, 73 g protein, 131 g carbohydrates, 31 g fiber, 50 g fat, 7 g saturated fat, 1,203 mg sodium
Prediabetes Tip: Trying to change everything at once can be overwhelming. Any time you're trying to make a health change, or in this case, prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes, focus on one or two habits to change first. Once that feels good, change another habit. Starting with small changes and building on them is more realistic and sustainable. Lifestyle changes (instead of strict diets and too-intense gym routines) are more effective in the long run.
Serve the Grilled Skirt Steak over mixed greens dressed in Citrus-Lime Vinaigrette.