Pre-Diabetes Meal Plan Strategies

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Roughly 57 million Americans have pre-diabetes, According to the American Diabetes Association. Pre-diabetes is a condition characterized by elevated blood glucose levels. Most individuals develop pre-diabetes before being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. With this condition, though blood glucose levels are higher than normal, they are not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. Controlling your weight, exercising and adopting certain meal plan strategies may stave off or prevent pre-diabetes from becoming Type 2 diabetes.

Balance Your Meals

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For better blood sugar control, consume a fiber-rich diet low in fatty animal foods and rich in plant foods, such as legumes, whole grains and vegetables. For a properly balanced diet, one food or food group should not significantly outweigh another either in your meal plan or on your plate. Mentally divide your plate into thirds. For breakfast, one-third should include 1 to 2 oz. of lean protein, another third, vegetables and/or fruits and the last third, starches or whole grains. A glass of milk or cup of light yogurt rounds out a balanced breakfast. Lunch and dinner may be divided among lean proteins, non-starchy vegetables and starchy vegetables or whole-grains. Round out each meal with low-fat or non-fat unsweetened dairy products. Dividing your plate helps to ensure that each meal is balanced.

Eat Regular Meals

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Blood sugar spikes often occur when you skip meals, binge and/or eat inconsistently. Avoid skipping meals and try to eat approximately every four hours. Remember that snacks should be well balanced and include a source of lean protein as well as carbohydrate. Strive to eat three meals daily, each about the same size. Include two to three snacks. This is optimal as it helps keep hunger in check and blood sugar levels steady. For example, for an 1,800-calorie diet, you may start your day with a 400-calorie breakfast; consume a 500-calorie lunch four to five hours later followed by a 200-calorie snack mid-afternoon. Keep dinner at about 500 calories and, two hours later, have another well-balanced 200-calorie snack, such as half a peanut butter sandwich and 4 ounces of non-fat milk. Of course, caloric requirements and meal spacing will vary depending upon your needs.

Avoid Certain Foods

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While, in general, no food or beverage should be labeled "bad," if you have pre-diabetes, you should avoid some foods. Ditch sugar-sweetened beverages, such as sodas, flavored waters and most juices. While 100 percent juice may be a healthy option, your best bet is whole fruit. Be aware of sugar-laden condiments. Avoid maple and pancake syrups, jams and preserves, most barbecue sauces, sweet and sour sauce and many commercial salad dressings. Many of these products are rich in simple sugars.

In general, limit fast foods, fried and processed foods--such as white bread products and frozen desserts--even if they are "non-fat." Fat-free frozen yogurt, for example, is not a healthier option. While it contains no fat, unless it is also low-sugar, this frozen treat typically provides the same number of calories and more sugar than its fat-laden counterpart.