The Path to Prediabetes Reversal: Pillar 2 – Whole Food Fueling
Eat this, not that.
Don’t eat fruit. Too much sugar.
I heard carrots have a lot of sugar too.
Diet pop is fine.
Diet pop will kill you.
It’s a wonder you can even get through the day in one piece sometimes.
The pressure to eat right is something so many of us feel but even more so if you have prediabetes.
You don’t want to make things worse for goodness sakes but you simply don’t know what to eat – or what you’re supposed to eat.
Let’s clear that up a bit, shall we?
In this week’s post, I’m breaking down Part 2 of The Path to Prediabetes Reversal series.
(Missed the first? Read it here.)
This week: Whole Food Fueling
If you have prediabetes and want to do everything you can to make sure it doesn’t progress to type 2 diabetes, this blog is for you.
I’ll outline what I refer to as “whole food fueling” and how you can apply it to your life and get some results – like more energy and fewer sugar cravings – starting today.
Someone asked me once when I did this talk if I meant you have to eat all your food from Whole Foods – as in the organic grocery retailer.
And I was like, good question, short answer: no 🙂
This is my take on eating “whole” or eating “clean”.
And like all my strategies for you, they have to be practical – because hellloooo ice cream, pizza and beer are just gonna happen.
Not only that, it’s gotta work and be something you can do for life.
My approach is based on a mix of 3 areas:
- My own experience with clients reversing prediabetes
- What works for me for energy and weight control
- The research on type 2 diabetes prevention
This way of eating is built around foods being eaten in the form closest as possible to the form they are naturally found.
That is, whole.
And it’s an “anti-diet” approach.
Meaning it’s not restrictive or guilt-based.
Again, life happens! Let’s not get all outta whack over a few doughnuts here or a bag of chips there.
My Whole Food Fueling approach to eating is a de-emphasis on processed foods.
This means decreasing foods that have been highly processed.
These types of foods might also be found in a box, carton, bag, jug, etc.
Instead of those foods, eating more of the foods that are less processed:
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- Whole, unprocessed grains
- Nuts and seeds, nut and seed butters
- Eggs, fresh meats and seafood
In practice, this means:
- Whole fruits instead of juice
- Grains in whole form vs. highly refined grains
- Natural nut butters instead of highly processed peanut butters with added salt and sugar
- Fresh meat instead of prepared and cured luncheon meat
Here’s one way to think about it:
Think of foods on a spectrum – for example, take oats.
Steel cut oats are on one end of spectrum in terms of processing as in, minimal processing.
Go to the opposite end of the spectrum and what do you find?
Instant oats (you know in the little packages) which are highly processed. They are cut to be smaller and cook quick.
They also have added sugars and salt or other ingredients.
When you move along to spectrum to less processed foods, you are getting less:
- Additives like artificial preservatives
- Artificial sugars and sweeteners (safe but increase sugar cravings in some)
- Emulsifiers (xanthan gum, soy lecithin, carrageenan)
- Flavor enhancers – like MSG
- Other food additives to make it shelf stable
And you’re getting MORE:
- Other bioactive anti-inflammatory compounds found in whole foods that have been stripped away from the more processed foods
One of my clients really embraced this idea and got an amazing “side effect”:
When she came to me and was getting headaches daily.
She craved sweets.
Like craved them bad.
Within a short time, she implemented the plan I set out for her.
And now that she’s following the plan I made for her and emphasizing whole foods, she doesn’t get headaches anymore.
I remember she said to me last time I saw her: it’s so nice not to have to buy Tylenol any more!
She was buying it so often to get her some relief from these headaches.
This is just one example of what whole food fueling can do.
After more than 10 years of helping people lose weight optimize their blood sugars, the most striking thing I’ve learned is:
Most people don’t lose weight and reverse their prediabetes because they don’t eat enough of the right food.
And in this case, not enough “whole foods” which results in:
- Low energy
- Unhealthy gut bacterial balance, which is associated with weight gain
- Uncontrolled cravings for yep, carbs!
- Knawing hunger = hangry
- Not being able to do the thing you do
And that thing is…whatever it is that gets you up in the morning.
However you’ve chosen to spend your precious time here on the planet.
And it’s waaaaaay more challenging to do that thing if you’re always run down, asking so much of yourself without fueling it right.
I put it to a client like this once:
If you had a racehorse that was bringing you in like cash money and was just killing it on the track, how would you treat that horse?
Would you expect it to go all day without much food or water and then perform on the race track to it’s full potential?
That horse would have the best of everything.
Adequate rest, fluids, fun and yes, fuel.
Another point that I like to talk about with whole foods is this idea of “Genes Affecting Our Jeans”
And using more whole foods is a nod to a Integrative Medicine-type of approach to wellness.
Meaning a “Food as Medicine” approach – and using whole-food therapies to prevent disease and maximize wellness.
I want you to take a leap of faith here and embrace the concept that there is more to FOOD than we currently know.
Nutrition science, particularly integrative nutrition is an evolving science with nuances and ongoing discoveries.
I think it’s pretty cool that there are bioactive compounds, antioxidants and real, health transforming power of whole foods that we can’t even name yet.
In fact there are studies that show a huge benefit of eating a whole foods diet rich in fruits in vegetables: it’s associated with a decrease in all-cause mortality and reduced cancer and cardiovascular mortality.
This may be related to their high polyphenol content and their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Chronic inflammation has been associated with increased risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer.
A recent studied showed an association between a pro-inflammatory with an increased risk of all-cause, cardiovascular disease, all-cancer and digestive-tract cancer mortality among pre-diabetic subjects.
Going through your day is going to be sooo much harder if you aren’t fueling your physical body with the nutrition it needs.
And of course, I’m not perfect with my food, nor do I strive to be.
Do I have pizza sometimes?
Do I eat out?
I also need a realistic and effective way of eating that I can use with my whole family.
I have 2 small kiddies and need to get supper on the table each and every day just like you – plus there’s diabetes in my family so I’m on the prevention train too.
So it’s not about being “perfect” it’s about looking at what you currently eat and finding out how you can improve.
Wherever you find yourself having highly processed foods, swap them out for their whole-food versions.
Little changes really add up so always celebrate the small wins here and there.
Want more examples of foods to eat?
Click the pictures below for to grab a cheat sheet and start fueling with whole food today.