Prediabetes Prevention: Why You Should Say Goodbye to These 7 Unhealthy Foods

Prediabetes Prevention: Why You Should Say Goodbye to These 7 Unhealthy Foods

Pre-diabetes develops when blood sugar levels are higher than usual but not yet high enough to be considered as type 2 diabetes. Think of it as an early warning sign that you are at high risk of developing diabetes in the future. Your risk of developing diabetes in the future is 10 to 20 times greater compared to those with a normal blood sugar level and it is a good time review your diet and exercise patterns.

A world-wide study into diabetes prevention showed that when people with pre-diabetes eat more healthily, have a modest weight loss of 5-10% of their body weight and walk for at least 30mins a day (5 days a week), they lower their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by about 58% over two years ( Diabetes Prevention Research Group 2002)

There are 2 million Australians with pre-diabetes and some small and simple changes may be all it takes to change their future health journey. Food choices are central to these changes and these are my top 7 swaps you can start making straight away that will get your health moving in the right direction.


Kick the can

Soft drinks are just empty calories. By that I mean they are sugar and nothing else. Sugar is a natural part of many foods but it is only useful when it comes wrapped up with other useful nutrients for the body such as fibre, anti-oxidents, vitamins and minerals.  Soft drink is just sugar and water. Research also showed that every extra sugar sweetened beverage (of which soft drink is the most popular type) someone drinks was associated with a 13% increase in the development of type 2 diabetes ( Imamura F 2016)


Dump the junk

By this I mean highly processed foods. You know the ones that grandmother wouldn’t recognise let alone choose for her dinner. These are foods made using industrial processing methods and contain ingredients you wouldn’t usually find in your pantry at home. The length of the ingredient list can also be a good clue. The shorter the list, the less processed it is likely to be. This list also includes processed meats such as salami, ham and sausages. Research has show that people with higher intakes of these foods had a 16% higher risk of diabetes ( Satija A et al 2016 ). Instead base your diet around mostly plant-based and minimally or unprocessed foods.


Run away from fast carbs

These are otherwise known as foods with a high glycemic index and are broken down quickly by the body into glucose. This glucose (sugar) then reaches the blood all at once and it can take the body time to deliver it to cells for energy. This leads to higher blood sugar levels and puts pressure on your body to more insulin. These foods include white bread, low fibre cereals, white rice, soft drinks, and sweets.  Glycemic index is measured on a scale up to 100. Aim for foods with a score of less than 55. You can look up the glycemic index of a food here.


Shelve that sugar!

Check the nutrition label for foods that contain more than 15g of sugar per 100g. You can check this on the nutrition label on the back of food packets. Some sugars will be natural (as in fruit, milk and yoghurt) and are a better choice as it comes with many other useful nutrients for the body but many will be added sugar and best avoided. To check for added sugar, check the ingredient list and look for sugar (and it’s many guises). The higher up the list, the higher the content.


Swap out saturated fat

Saturated fats are typically found in animal foods and coconuts. These fats have been shown to increase your ‘bad’ cholesterol and have been found to increase the incidence of diabetes (Bradley B 2018). To reduce your saturated fat intake, choose very lean meats (e.g., 5 star or Heart Smart), swap to light or skim milk, choose low fat yoghurts, occasional coconut oil/cream and small portions of cheese and butter. 


Flex-itarian your meat

Australians like their meat.. in fact we are some of the world’s biggest red meat eaters! But to reduce your risk of diabetes (and bowel cancer), it is a good idea to reduce portions of red meat to 100g at a meal and no more than 450g in a week. This will reduce your saturated fat intake (see point above) and reduce your risk of several different cancers, heart disease and stroke.  To reduce your meat and your grocery bill, try mixing in some tinned legumes and lentils to make meat go further and improve your overall health.


Fresh is best

Fruit and vegetables are great but when you are eating them fried or juiced, they can lose all of their potential benefits. Fruit juice is not a replacement for fresh fruit and in fact, fruit juice has the same about of sugar per cup as soft drink and therefore is considered a sugar-sweetened beverage. Fried vegetables like you see in vegetable crisps are high in fats and have very little of the original nutrients left.  For those who can meet the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating guidelines of 5 serves of vegetables a day, they have a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes ( Cooper A et al 2012)