All About the Prediabetes Diet: Indian Foods That Work

Eating healthy with prediabetes need not be complicated or expensive. Learn more about the prediabetes diet and Indian foods to include in it.

Thanks to urbanisation and rapidly changing lifestyle habits, Type 2 Diabetes has become a global epidemic. This has also increased the number of cases of prediabetes, which is seen as a precursor to Type 2 Diabetes. 

The good news is that while Type 2 Diabetes may not be reversible, prediabetes is. Regular exercise and a well-balanced diet can help you effectively manage and possibly reverse prediabetes. In this article, we will discuss what to eat and avoid in a prediabetes diet, Indian foods that you should include in your diet, and more.


What Is Prediabetes?

Prediabetes is a condition that occurs when your blood glucose (sugar) levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. When you have prediabetes, your cells develop resistance to insulin. They have a sluggish or low insulin response, leading to elevated blood sugar levels. 

Prediabetes is associated with obesity, poor HDL (high-density lipoprotein or “good”) cholesterol levels, and hypertension (high blood pressure). Because health issues linked with Type 2 Diabetes frequently arise before the diagnosis of diabetes, prediabetes is more correctly referred to as an early stage of diabetes or borderline diabetes. Prediabetes does not usually present any symptoms. 

You can read more about prediabetes here.

Why Does Prediabetes Management Require A Healthy Diet Plan?

Prediabetic blood sugar levels can be brought back to normal with lifestyle changes such as a healthy diet plan and regular physical activity. When you have prediabetes, your physician will most likely advise you to consult with a nutritionist to help you follow a healthy diet for prediabetes. 

The plan assists you in controlling your blood sugar levels, managing your weight (which lowers insulin resistance), and reducing your risk for Type 2 Diabetes and heart disease by lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

When you consume too many foods with simple carbohydrates, or sugary, processed or deep fried foods, your body produces an unfavorable spike in blood glucose. If elevated blood glucose levels are not controlled, it can lead to major problems, such as hyperglycemia, which, if not treated, can lead to long-term concerns such as vascular, visual, nervous, renal, and cardiac damage.

What Types Of Foods Should You Eat With Prediabetes?

The following is a list of foods you should include in your prediabetic diet or borderline diabetic diet

  • Low GI Foods 

Glycemic Index (GI) is a system used to assign a score to foods that contain carbohydrates. The GI score is assigned based on how much a food raises your blood glucose levels. Foods with a low GI score have less impact on your blood glucose levels. 

Foods with a low glycemic index (GI) are broken down slowly by your body, thus preventing a sudden blood sugar spike. Beans, corn, carrots, whole grains, milk, and leafy greens are examples of low GI foods.

  • Fiber-Rich Foods

Consuming fibre-rich foods may reduce overeating, as fibre absorbs water in your gut and swells, making you feel satiated. Fiber-rich foods are also digested slowly by the body and aid in avoiding the “crash” that can occur after consuming high-sugar foods. Examples of fibre-rich foods include whole-grain bread, quinoabroccoli, avocado, beans, and legumes.

  • Complex Carbohydrates

Carbohydrate intake is a crucial part of glycemic control. Your body breaks down carbohydrates into glucose and generates energy. Carbohydrates can be classified broadly into two categories- simple and complex. Complex carbohydrates are larger molecules that take longer to digest than simple carbohydrates. Thus they release glucose at a slower and more steady rate. 

Foods like sweets, sugary drinks, processed food, refined grains and flour, etc. have simple carbohydrates that do not have any nutritional value. Substitute these with foods containing complex carbohydrates like whole grains, fresh fruits, beans, legumes, lentils, vegetables, etc.

  • Lean Meats or Protein-Rich Foods

If you have been diagnosed with prediabetes, you are more likely to develop Type 2 Diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Eating a diet that is rich in protein and fibre while being low in saturated fats can help prevent this. Lean meat is a good protein source with a lower fat content and thus a lower calorie content. 

Examples of lean meat are lamb, pork, beef, veal, etc. with the fat trimmed off. Prediabetics should also consume protein-rich foods such as egg whites, skin-less chicken, and low-fat fish.

How Often Should You Eat With Prediabetes?

You should consume three small to medium meals and one or two snacks everyday. Snacks and meals should not be skipped in prediabetes. Maintaining consistent nutrition (carbohydrates, fats, and proteins) intake can help you maintain stable blood sugar levels.

Indian Diet Plan For Prediabetes

The following is a sample menu for a prediabetic Indian diet plan.

1. Indian Breakfast For Prediabetes 

  • Stuffed Bajra Paratha is a gluten-free paratha made with bajra or pearl millet flour and filled with nutritious veggies.
  • Moong Dal & Spinach Idli can be made by excluding rice and replacing it with soaked and ground green gram (moong dal) and fresh spinach. The calorie content of these spinach idlis reduces due to the exclusion of rice. Pancakes can be made with the same batter.
  • Oats Upma, made with quick-cooking oats and vegetables of your choice, will give you a nutritious breakfast. The soluble fibre in oats keeps you full for a long time and replacing semolina or rava with oats can lower your carb intake.
  • Karela Thepla is a traditional Indian baked flatbread made with a dough containing shredded karela (bitter gourd). Karela can help you lower your blood sugar levels by promoting glucose uptake in your cells.

2. Indian Lunch For Prediabetes 

  • One bowl of stir-fried bhindi (okra) with two bajra rotis.
  • One bowl of brown rice with dal made with methi (fenugreek) leaves.
  • One bowl of methi chicken with two millet rotis.
  • One bowl of rajma (kidney beans) curry with boiled brown rice.

3. Indian Dinner For Prediabetes

  • One bowl of seasonal vegetable curry with matar (peas) pulao.
  • One bowl of gravy chicken with two whole wheat rotis.
  • Steamed fish with one bowl of boiled brown rice, vegetables, and herbs.
  • One bowl of soyabean nuggets curry with two bajra rotis.

4. Indian Snacks For Prediabetes 

  • One bowl sprouts chaat, made with sprouted moong and veggies.
  • One small besan (gram flour) cheela made with vegetables.
  • Two boiled egg whites with seasoning.
  • One mid-size seasonal fruit that is low on the GI scale, such as applespearsoranges, peaches, apricotskiwis, berries, etc.

5. Indian Drinks For Prediabetes 

  • Karela juice, made by squeezing juice from grated karela and lemons.
  • Jamun smoothie, made by blending jamun or Java plums with salt and low-fat yoghurt or milk.
  • Chaas, made by blending low-fat yoghurt with water and Indian spices.
  • Cucumber cooler, made with cucumber (a low GI vegetable), low-fat yoghurt, and mint leaves.

What Foods To Avoid If You Have Prediabetes?

  • Sugary Drinks

Eliminate store-bought juices, sweet tea, sodas, and any other sugary beverage from your diet. Consuming sugary drinks is one of the quickest ways to spike your blood sugar levels. So, avoid sugary beverages and replace them with coconut water, lassi, vegetable juice, unsweetened green tea, etc. 

  • Processed Foods

Processed and packaged food are generally high in sugar, additives, salt, and fat, which are bad for everyone, but more so for prediabetics and diabetics. Many processed foods are manufactured with refined wheat flour, and provide fewer nutrients than whole grain foods while being high in carbs. As a result, processed foods elevate your blood sugar levels and should be avoided.

  • Sweets

When you have prediabetes, either your body does not create sufficient insulin, or your cells do not respond adequately to the hormone. As a result, your blood glucose levels become abnormally high. Simple sugars, like in sweets, elevate your blood glucose levels more quickly and should be avoided.

  • Alcohol

Alcohol may interfere with the effects of insulin in your body, leading to greater blood sugar levels. However, it can also have the reverse effect and lower your blood sugar to extremely low levels. Hence, you should avoid alcohol or limit your consumption to one (for women) or two (for men) drinks in a day.

  • Deep-Fried Food

If you are pre-diabetic, avoid eating fried foods as they are heavy in simple carbohydrates and saturated fats. Fat takes a long time to metabolise. It will spike your blood sugar levels and keep it elevated for an extended period of time.

Additional Tips for Prediabetics

  • Monitor your blood sugar levels: You should test your blood sugar levels up to four times daily. Keep a notebook to record your blood glucose levels or track them on an app to determine how specific foods or activities influence them.
  • Lower your stress levels: Extra stress is not only harmful to your mental wellbeing, but it can also aggravate prediabetes symptoms. Long term stress can elevate the levels of cortisol and other stress hormones in your body, which counteract the function of insulin. Thus, stress might result in high blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia). 
  • Stop smoking: Smoking makes you 30 to 40% more prone to developing diabetes than people who do not smoke. Smoking increases insulin resistance in your body, thus contributing to elevated blood sugar levels.
  • Exercise: The American Diabetes Association (ADA), recommends that prediabetics engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic and strength training per week. Regular physical activity can help you manage your weight, lower insulin resistance, reverse prediabetes and prevent it from progressing to Type 2 Diabetes.

Don’t Have Time To Read?

  • Prediabetes is a condition where your blood sugar levels are high, but not high enough to qualify as Type 2 Diabetes. Unlike Type 2 Diabetes, prediabetes is reversible with a good diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes.
  • Managing your dietary habits and staying active are important aspects of treating and reversing prediabetes. These habits will assist you in keeping your blood glucose levels within a safe range.
  • A pre-diabetic diet plan assists you in controlling your blood glucose levels, lowering insulin resistance, managing your weight, and reducing risk factors for Type 2 Diabetes and heart disease.
  • The types of foods a prediabetic should eat are low Glycemic Index (GI) foods, fibre-rich foods, lean meats, and protein-rich foods.
  • Snacks and meals should not be skipped by a prediabetic. Maintain a consistent nutrition (carbohydrates, fats, and proteins) intake. It can help you maintain stable blood sugar levels.
  • Avoid sugary drinks, processed foods, sweets, deep-fried foods, and alcohol if you are a pre-diabetic.
  • If you have prediabetes, the goal is to keep your blood glucose levels within the target range. Eat a proper, balanced diet that includes low GI foods, proteins, fibre, and complex carbohydrates, regularly monitor your blood sugar levels, manage your stress levels, quit smoking, and get regular physical activity.
  • Use the Phable Care App to consult India’s leading diabetologists, order medicines, book lab tests, integrate blood sugar monitoring and other devices to get real-time remote care from the comfort of your home. Also, check out our Diabetes Management program which provides ‎360º care. Let’s treat diabetes together.

Friendly Asked Questions

What foods should you avoid if you have prediabetes?

If you have prediabetes, you need to avoid foods that have too much sugar, are deep fried, are overly processed, and are rich in simple carbohydrates. These foods can spike your blood sugar and make your condition worse.

Is there a prediabetic diet?

If you are prediabetic, a diet rich in protein and fibre, low in saturated fat, and with a moderate amount of complex carbohydrates can help reduce the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. It is best to avoid meat with fat and skin. Choose sources of protein such as skinless chicken and lean meat.

What blood sugar level is prediabetic?

A fasting blood glucose level of 100 to 125 mg/dL indicates prediabetes, as does an HbA1c level of 5.7% to 6.4%.

How can I reverse prediabetes naturally?

Yes, it is possible to reverse prediabetes naturally. You can normalise your blood glucose levels and reverse prediabetes by shedding extra weight to maintain a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet, and exercising regularly. This helps reduce insulin resistance in your body. Other methods, such as stress reduction and improved sleep, may also be beneficial.

What are the best foods to eat if you are prediabetic?

If you are prediabetic, it is important to maintain consistent nutrition (carbohydrates, fats, and proteins) intake everyday. Snacks and meals should not be skipped. Eating a healthy, balanced diet can help you maintain stable blood sugar levels. The types of foods a prediabetic should eat are foods with a low Glycemic Index such as green leafy vegetables, lentils, beans, etc., fibre-rich foods like wholegrains, broccoli, beans, etc., and lean meats like pork, beef, lamb, etc. with the fat trimmed off. When it comes to a prediabetes diet, Indian foods are among the easiest and healthiest to include.