Diet is the #1 Thing to Change if You Have Prediabetes. It Will Help You Prevent Actual Diabetes!
The DPP Diet and Coaching for Prediabetes
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, have developed a program with diet and lifestyle changes that has been shown among prediabetes patients to reduce the risk of developing diabetes by over 50%. This program is the Diabetes Prevention Program, or DPP.
Each DPP program includes a year-long lifestyle change curriculum delivered via lessons put together by the CDC. Lesson topics include nutrition, physical activity, managing stress, and fitting your healthy choices into your and your family’s lifestyle.
You can find an in-person DPP program to attend, or see whether you are eligible for a digital program. Lark Health Coach, for example, is a CDC DPP program that delivers the program via your smartphone, on your time. Lark also helps with tracking weight, food, and exercise, and customizes the program according to preferences such as low-carb, gluten-free, or vegan.
Lark’s prediabetes diet recommendations are consistent with the DPP and include recommendations based off evidence from diets such as the DASH diet and Mediterranean patterns. Your Lark coach, for example, might suggest:
Choosing fruit instead of dessert.
Steaming, baking, or grilling instead of frying.
Using olive oil instead of butter or shortening.
Trying plant-based proteins or fish sometimes instead of red meat.
Enjoying your meals and having them in a pleasant environment.
Balanced DPP Healthy Diet for Prediabetes
Foods to Emphasize
- Fish and shellfish
- Plant-based proteins, such as beans, peas, lentils, tofu, and nuts
- Whole grains and whole-grain products
- Healthy fats such as olive oil and avocado
- Fresh fruit
- Spices and herbs
- (In Moderation)
- Starchy vegetables (e.g., peas, winter squash, corn, and sweet potatoes)
- Lean animal proteins, such as skinless poultry and eggs.
- Reduced-fat dairy products, such as low-fat cheese and fat-free cottage cheese and plain yogurt.
- Water and other low-calorie, hydrating beverages such as decaffeinated green tea.
- Has been shown to lower insulin resistance and blood glucose levels (A1c) among individuals with diabetes and prediabetes.
- Based on eating patterns shown to have health benefits such as lowering blood pressure, improving cholesterol levels, and
- Can aid in weight loss due to:
- Reminding you to weigh in.
- Calorie reduction by swapping low-calorie foods such as lean proteins and vegetables, and having smaller portions
- Swapping empty calories for high-fiber choices such as fruit and whole grains.
- Simplifies your diet with reminders, tracking, and suggestions for small changes.
- Better potential for long-term success due to allowances for special occasions and cravings.
Foods to Limit or Avoid
- Processed meats
- Fried foods
- Fatty red meat and poultry with skin
- Solid fats (e.g., lard and butter)
- Refined grains (e.g., white bread, pasta, rice, and crackers, and refined cereals)
- Sweets (e.g., candy, cake, ice cream, pie, pastries, and cookies)
- Sugar-sweetened beverages, (e.g., soft drinks, energy drinks, sports drinks, and sugar-sweetened coffee and tea beverages)
- Alcoholic beverages and mixed drinks
- Sugar-sweetened foods, such as flavored yogurt and oatmeal, and sugary condiments
- Dried fruit and fruit juice
- Is less focused on counting calories and grams of carbohydrate, fat, and protein grams – some people prefer to count.
- Is not a prescriptive meal plan, so users must decide what to eat rather than expecting to be told what to have at each meal and snack (but you can use the meal plan on this page as a model!).
Sample Diet Plans for Prediabetes
The prediabetes diet plans below are designed to help you lose weight, improve your blood sugar control and overall health, and be easy to follow. Each plan has about 1,200 to 1,400 calories per day. If you need more, you can add in one or more of the healthy snack options listed below the menus. There is are one-week menus for a low-carb ketogenic diet and for a balanced, DPP-based prediabetes diet, and snacks listed for both types of diets.
Be sure to:
Drink plenty of water.
Check with your doctor before starting the plan.
Modify the plan to meet your dietary needs and preferences.
Balanced DPP Prediabetes Menu
½ cup oatmeal made with skim milk, topped with ½ cup strawberries and ½ oz. walnuts
1 whole grain English muffin with 2 tablespoons peanut butter and ¾ cup blueberries
Breakfast bowl with 1 cup cubed cantaloupe, ½ cup non-fat cottage cheese, 2 T. sunflower seeds, and ½ cup low-sugar whole-grain cereal, such as Cheerios
4 egg whites scrambled with milk, 1 cup spinach leaves, ½ cup tomatoes, and 1 oz. shredded cheddar cheese. 1 slice whole-wheat toast
¾ cup unsweetened whole-grain cereal (such as shredded wheat) with 1 cup milk and 1 sliced banana
1 cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt with 1 cup fresh or frozen peaches and ½ oz. of walnuts or pecans and 1/3 cup of oats
(Recipe) Plus 1 poached egg and ½ cup berries
Tuna Melt (1/2 recipe)
Mix a 5-oz. can of tuna with 2 T. fat-free plain yogurt, 1 T. each lemon juice and diced chives and celery. Divide between 2 slices of whole-grain toast. Add sliced tomatoes and 1 oz cheese (per slice). Toast or broil until cheese is melted. Serve with 1 orange.
2 cups of chopped Romaine lettuce, plus 2 oz. feta, 1 T. diced red onion, 1 each chopped tomato and cucumber, ½ cup cooked whole-grain pasta shells, dash of dried oregano, 1 tablespoon vinegar, 2 tsp. olive oil, and squeeze of lemon juice.
1 hard-boiled egg, 1 cup of baby carrots or carrot sticks with 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, 3 cups of air-popped popcorn, 2 tangerines
Pita Hummus Pocket
1 small whole-wheat pita in halves spread with 2 T. hummus and stuffed with 3 oz. cooked chicken or fish and 1 cup of vegetables such as lettuce, bell pepper, mushrooms, tomatoes, or sprouts.
1 medium whole-grain tortilla with ½ cup fat-free refried beans, 1 oz. low-fat cheddar or jack cheese, 2 T. salsa, 2 T. fat-free yogurt or sour cream, shredded lettuce and diced tomato and ¼ cup sliced avocado.
1 whole-grain mini bagel spread with ¼ cup avocado, with 2 oz. of natural turkey, lettuce, tomato, and mustard; ½ cup non-fat cottage cheese; 1 cup of cut fruit.
Meatless Monday – Shepherd’s Pie (Recipe)
3 oz. chicken breast stewed with 2 T. broth, ½ cup carrots, 1 cup mushrooms. Serve with ½ baked acorn squash. 1 large pear.
2 small whole-wheat tortillas stuffed with: 3 oz. lean ground turkey with Mexican or taco seasoning, shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, and 1 oz. of shredded Cheddar cheese.
3 oz. baked salmon with 1 cup green beans topped with ½ oz. slivered almonds and ½ cup cooked brown rice. 1 cup watermelon cubes
Chicken and Pasta
½ cup cooked whole-grain pasta tossed with 3 oz. cooked chicken, 2 tsp. olive oil, ¼ cup parmesan cheese, ½ oz. walnuts, and 1 cup spinach.
3 oz. lean ground turkey patty on a whole-grain bun, lettuce, mustard, tomato, and ¼ avocado. 1 cup baked asparagus spears
1 whole-grain English muffin or small (2 oz.) bagel in halves, topped with tomato or pizza sauce, 2 oz. mozzarella cheese, and as many vegetables as you can pack on! 1 apple
|Add snacks as needed|
Balanced DPP Recipes
1 cup of rolled or quick-cooking oats
¾ cup warm milk
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
¼ cup whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Let the oats soak in the milk for 20 minutes. Blend in the other ingredients. Pour in spoonfuls onto a heated griddle with cooking spray, and turn over when edges bubble. Serve warm.
2 cups quinoa cooked in low-sodium broth
½ onion, diced
2 large tomatoes, diced
1 cup low-sodium canned black or kidney beans
1 tablespoon of lime juice
4 ounces of cheddar or jack cheese
½ teaspoon cumin
1 cup of mango or kiwi in pieces
Combine all ingredients and let sit together until time to serve.
1 lb. peeled and cooked sweet potato
½ cup shredded parmesan cheese
1 diced onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves crushed garlic
1 lb. ready to use textured vegetable protein (TVP) or soy crumbles)
½ cup low-sodium vegetable broth
12 oz. thawed frozen peas and carrots
Blend the sweet potato with milk, nutmeg, and cheese. Separately, cook the onions and garlic in a pan with the olive. Mix in the TVP, broth, and vegetables, and spread on a pan. Top with the sweet potato mixture, and bake at 425 degrees until set, about 20 minutes.
Balanced DPP Snacks
Any of the Low-Carb Snacks, plus any of the following…
1 cup raw vegetables, such as broccoli or cauliflower florets, bell pepper strips, or celery, carrot, or cucumber sticks, plus 2 tablespoons of hummus.
1 diced apple or pear in ½ cup cottage cheese, cinnamon optional.
½ cup fat-free refried beans with ½ oz. cheese melted on top, optional salsa and/or diced tomatoes
3 cups of air-popped popcorn plus 1 string cheese stick
1 cup of watermelon mixed with 1 oz. of feta cheese and mint leaves
½ can tuna with 1 oz. whole-grain crackers
½ whole-grain pita with 3 oz. cooked chicken breast, mustard, and lettuce and tomatoes.
1 cup of edamame in the pods
1 packet plain instant oatmeal made with almond milk, plus ½ cup berries