Tips for healthy eating with diabetes

Karen Blekaitis

UHN’s KarenBlekaitis is a registered dietitian in the Sun Life Financial Banting and Best Diabetes Clinic at Toronto General Hospital.We recently asked her to answer this questionfrom our audiencearound prediabetes and nutrition.

“I have a strong history of type 2 diabetes in my family, andI have been diagnosed with prediabetes. Where can I find help with planning healthy meals for myself? (I’m in my mid-80s).”

What is prediabetes?

Prediabetes refers to blood sugar levels that are higher than the normal range, but not high enough to be diagnosed as Type 2 diabetes.

Should I be concerned about prediabetes?

Prediabetes increases your risk of developing diabetes and its complications. The good news is not everyone diagnosed with prediabetes develops Type 2 diabetes. In fact, lifestyle changes(which includeahealthydietand exercise) can reduce the progression to diabetes byup to60 per cent.

What should I eat if I have been diagnosed with prediabetes?

Many people fear that they have to give up their favourite foods and adhere to a strict diet. Actually, the dietary recommendations for prediabetes are similar to recommendations for the general healthy population. While you may read about different ‘diets’ for the prevention of diabetes, you must make healthy lifestyle choices that you can follow and incorporate into your regular habits for life.

The most helpful dietary choices for preventing diabetes include: whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, olive oil, white meat/ seafood, reduced intake of red and processed meats and sugar sweetened beverages.

Additional tips for healthy meal planning:

  • Make one change at a time. If you identified that you would like to start increasing your intake of plant proteins, fish and vegetables, start with just one of these goals first. Once you have incorporated the new food into your diet, move on to the next goal. For additional resources and recipeswith legumes and lentils,
  • Follow the plate model to help manage portion sizes. One half of the plate should be vegetables, ¼ of the plate protein, and ¼ of the plate should be starch.
  • Additional resources:

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