Eating with prediabetes doesn't have to be complicated. If you've been diagnosed with prediabetes and are looking for a list of the best and worst foods to eat with this condition, you've come to the right place.

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Prediabetes is a condition that is characterized by having blood sugar levels that are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. Under these conditions your pancreas is working a little harder than it should.

If you have been diagnosed with prediabetes, you may be asking "What should I eat?" and "What should I avoid?" While all foods can strategically fit into a healthy diet, not all foods are created equal. The amount of added sugars, simple sugars, complex carbohydrates, and fiber can make some foods better for your blood sugar levels than others.

Foods To Consider Limiting or Avoiding

Regular Soda

To say the least, regular soda is a crafty combination of carbonated water, food coloring and a great deal of added sugars. Not only does regular soda lack nutritional value, but all that added sugar can cause your blood sugar levels to spike. This is not a good thing, especially when you have prediabetes and are trying to manage your blood sugar.

Fast Food

It's important to make smart and nutritious food choices when ordering out. Burgers and fries are not ideal for a few reasons. First, the portion sizes offered at your typical restaurant may be too much for your pancreas to handle. As a result, the carbs in this meal may end up spiking your blood sugar levels. Second, burgers and fries are high in calories. Over time, the consumption of excess calories can result in weight gain. Excess weight gain can promote insulin resistance, which can also cause your blood sugar levels to spike. If you find yourself at a fast food restaurant, look for more nutritious options like grilled chicken or a salad.

Candy

Chocolate, hard candies and gummy worms have one thing in common: they all contain simple sugars. Simple sugars are a type of carbohydrate that enter the bloodstream quickly, because they don't contain any fiber. Fiber helps slow down how quickly sugars are absorbed into the bloodstream. Fiber is found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes, which is part of the reason these foods are so good for you.

Basil-Parmesan Zucchini Roll-Ups Casserole
Credit: Brie Passano

Foods To Consider Including More of

Almonds

Almonds, like most nuts, are an all-around nutritious snack. Almonds contain six grams of carbs per ounce, and are a good source of fiber and protein. They are also packed with healthy fats. This makes the almond a trifecta of fiber, healthy fat and protein. This is great for someone who has prediabetes: snacking on almonds can help you feel full and satisfied while also helping manage your blood sugar levels.

Eggs

Not only do eggs taste good, but they are versatile. Eggs are equally suitable for breakfast, lunch or dinner, and are a great source of protein. Whether scrambled, boiled or poached, what's most impressive is that eggs won't spike your blood sugar levels. That's right! Eggs are high in protein but have almost no carbohydrates, which means they have a minimal effect on your blood sugar levels. What does this mean for you? Eggs can be a building block of healthy meals that won't cause you undue stress.

Non-Starchy Vegetables

Most vegetables fall into the non-starchy category, including asparagus, broccoli, lettuce and mushrooms. (Starchy vegetables are those that are high in carbohydrates, including potatoes and sweet potatoes). Non-starchy vegetables are loaded with vitamins, minerals and fiber, and are some of the best foods you can eat. In addition to providing your body with nutrients, these vegetables are a key source of dietary fiber. Fiber helps slow the uptake of carbohydrates in your bloodstream, which can help you manage your blood sugar levels. Plus, fiber can help you stay full for a longer period of time. It's a good idea to eat a wide range of non-starchy vegetables, so try to rotate through them and include a few on your grocery list each week.

Beans

Beans provide the body with fiber, protein and complex carbohydrates. Complex carbs are a type of carbohydrate that is digested at a slower rate compared to simple carbs. Aiming to eat more complex carbs and fewer simple carbs can help you manage your blood sugar levels. Complex carbs do a better job stabilizing blood sugar levels than simple carbs, because they take longer to enter the bloodstream. Experiment with a wide range of beans and recipes to find the bean dishes you like the best.

The Bottom Line

Prediabetes doesn't have to make eating burdensome or complex. Making little changes here and there is a great way to help bring your blood sugar levels into a healthy range. Remember, while there is no such thing as a prediabetes diet, there are small changes that can go a long way to helping your health. Start by replacing simple carbs with complex carbs, and look for foods that are high in protein and fiber. It also helps to toss a variety of non-starchy vegetables into the mix. All of these may help to help you feel full and satisfied while nourishing your body with a plethora of vitamins and minerals.