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I Reversed My Pre-Diabetes Diagnosis in Three Months: Here’s How

By Alicia Betz
August 2, 2023
Image credit: Lindsey Engelken for Clean Plates

I remember sitting down in a state of absolute shock when I got the results back from my yearly wellness check. My fasting blood sugar level had gotten up to 106mg/dL, which is solidly in the “pre-diabetes” range. Now, prediabetes isn’t exactly a condition on its own; it’s more the point at which your glucose levels are high enough that your doctor encourages you to start paying attention so you can try to nip the problem in the bud before you actually get diabetes.

I was beyond surprised by this diagnosis: I’ve always been pretty healthy, and I only have one relative with diabetes (my paternal grandmother) so my hereditary risk levels weren’t exactly high. When I was told I was pre-diabetic, I was in my 20s, I had no major health concerns, and I was pretty active. As a high school teacher, I spent whole days on my feet, and I enjoyed working out. I typically ate relatively well for breakfast and lunch, too. But I’ll admit things tended to fall apart after work. I used to eat a lot of candy and processed food, and I had a takeout habit that I indulged more frequently than I’d like to admit.

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So the day I received my test results, I resolved to make some big lifestyle changes.

I decided to add daily walks to my routine. Every day when I got home from work, instead of reaching for a snack, I harnessed up my German shepherd, Silas, and took him for a good two- to three-mile walk. As I was already pretty active, that change didn’t require a big adjustment from me emotionally, but it definitely made Silas happier.

The change to my eating habits, however, absolutely rocked my world. I stopped getting fast food and drinking sugary drinks. It was late fall, and my husband and I had been indulging in seasonal treats like apple cider a little too frequently.

Related: 5 “Healthy” Breakfast Foods That Are Spiking Your Blood Sugar

Here’s what I started eating that helped reverse my pre-diabetes.

For breakfast, I usually had a bowl of plain Greek yogurt with fresh blueberries and strawberries topped with no-added-sugar granola. I also swapped out the sugar in my morning coffee for stevia, which is a safe, plant-based sugar substitute.

Rather than eating a sandwich for lunch, as I often used to, I started bringing a salad with me to school. I typically made my salad with spinach as a base and topped it with strawberries, broccoli, tomatoes, ground flax seeds, sunflower seeds, feta cheese, and grilled chicken. I also made sure any dressing I chose had no added sugar. Primal Kitchen has some great options, like their ranch made with avocado oil.

One of my favorite snacks I started eating when I was beginning my pre-diabetes shift is still a go-to for me today. I mix plain Greek yogurt with no-added-sugar peanut butter and about a tablespoon of chocolate chips. This is enough to satisfy my sweet tooth — without consuming an excessive amount of sugar. I often opted for Lily’s Dark Chocolate Baking Chips.

I changed up my dinners a lot (variety is the spice of life, after all) but one of my go-to dinners included grilled chicken marinated in Italian dressing — so simple and easy, it’s perfect for a weeknight — and these excellent quinoa burrito bowls.

I chose to stay away from added sugar Mondays through Thursdays. On weekends, I decided it was a good idea to be more liberal with my diet because I think it’s still important to have fun on our days off; this approach felt less “punishing” and much more sustainable to me. When I did enjoy sweets, however, I ate a significantly smaller portion than I would have in the past, and I soon found I didn’t really miss eating a whole lot of sugar all at once.

When I had my fasting sugar levels rechecked about three months later, I was really anxious before the appointment.

I wasn’t interested in living with diabetes if I could help it, and I hoped against hope that the lifestyle changes I’d made were enough to make a difference. I was once again shocked by my results, but for a very different reason this time: I was elated. My new number was 88mg/dL, which put me firmly in the “healthy glucose levels” range. My doctors were just as amazed as I was and wanted to know what I did to make such a drastic change.

In the almost ten years that have passed since that initial test result, I’ve loosened up my diet quite a bit. With three young kids of my own to look after, I’m also not able to work out as much as I have in the past. But every time I feel myself slipping too far back into old habits, I remind myself of that shock and fear when I learned I had pre-diabetes.

I’ve had my fasting blood glucose tested multiple times since, and every number has been below 100. I even passed three gestational diabetes glucose tolerance tests, which I’d been really concerned about. Undoubtedly, the changes I made when I decreased my blood sugar levels have had an overall positive impact on my health. And should I ever slip too far and see my numbers creep past 100, I know exactly what to do to bring them back down again.

Read next: A New Study Shows That This Particular Diet Lowers Diabetes Risk

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