top of page

The Top 10 Worst Foods for Prediabetes (And What to Eat Instead)


Prediabetes is like a flashing warning light on your health dashboard. It's telling you to pay attention and take action before things get worse. By learning what prediabetes is and understanding how your food choices affect it, you can steer your health in the right direction. This blog will cover the top 10 worst foods for prediabetes and offer tasty alternatives to help you keep your blood sugar in check.

What is Prediabetes?

Prediabetes occurs when your blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not quite high enough to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes. Think of it as a yellow light – a caution sign that you need to make some changes to avoid bigger problems down the road.

Signs of Prediabetes: You might notice increased thirst, frequent bathroom trips, feeling super hungry all the time, fatigue, and blurred vision. But here's the kicker: many people with prediabetes don’t show any symptoms at all, which is why regular check-ups are so important.

Causes of Prediabetes: There's no single cause, but a combo of factors like genetics, being overweight, not getting enough exercise, and poor eating habits can all play a part.

The 10 Worst Foods for Prediabetes

There are certain foods that will really send your blood sugar into the danger zone, and these are the top 10.

Sugary Drinks: Soda, energy drinks, and sweetened coffee or tea can send your blood sugar on a rollercoaster ride.

White Bread: Made from refined flour, white bread has a high glycemic index, leading to quick increases in blood sugar.

Pastries and Sweets: Cakes, cookies, and other baked goodies are loaded with sugar and often contain unhealthy fats like soybean oil and sunflower seed oil.

Fruit Juices: Even though they come from fruit, many fruit juices have added sugars and lack the fiber that helps manage blood sugar levels, making them hazardous for people with prediabetes.

Fried Foods: French fries, fried chicken, and anything deep-fried in highly processed oils such as soybean oil or sunflower seed oil can increase inflammation and insulin resistance.

Potato Chips: High in unhealthy fats and starchy carbohydrates, potato chips are an unhealthy combination that can raise blood sugar and keep it elevated for hours.

Sugary Cereals: Those colorful cereals might look fun, but they’re often packed with sugar.

Alcohol: Too much booze can mess with your blood sugar regulation and insulin sensitivity.

Fast Food: Burgers, pizzas, and other fast foods are typically high in processed carbohydrates, unhealthy fats, sugars, and salt.

High-Sugar Fruits: Fruits like mangoes, pineapples, and grapes are healthy but can spike your blood sugar if you eat too many.

Why These Foods Are So Dangerous for Prediabetes

These foods are problematic because they cause rapid spikes in blood sugar levels and can lead to insulin resistance over time. Insulin resistance is when your cells don’t respond well to insulin and can’t use glucose for energy, making your pancreas work overtime to produce more insulin. Eventually, it can't keep up, and your blood sugar levels stay high.

What to Eat Instead

Swapping out those not-so-great foods for healthier options can make a huge difference in managing prediabetes. Here are some tasty alternatives:

Sugary Drinks Alternative: Water, herbal teas, sparkling water with a splash of lemon or lime, and unsweetened iced tea. You can also infuse your water with fruits like berries or cucumber for extra flavor without added sugar.

White Bread Alternative: Whole grain bread, whole wheat bread, or bread made from other whole grains like rye or spelt. These options are higher in fiber and have a lower glycemic index, which helps manage blood sugar levels.

Pastries and Sweets Alternative: Fresh fruit, Greek yogurt with a drizzle of honey, or homemade baked goods made with whole grain flour and natural sweeteners like stevia or monk fruit. Dark chocolate with a high cocoa content (70% or higher) can also be a better choice in moderation.

Fruit Juices Alternative: Whole fruits like apples, berries, or oranges. Whole fruits provide fiber which helps slow the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream. You can also try making smoothies with whole fruits and vegetables to retain the fiber.

Fried Foods Alternative: Baked, grilled, or air-fried options. For example, bake your own sweet potato fries, grill chicken instead of frying it, or use an air fryer to achieve a crispy texture without the unhealthy oils.

Potato Chips Alternative: Baked vegetable chips (kale, sweet potato, beet), air-popped popcorn, or nuts and seeds. These alternatives can help you avoid unhealthy fats while still providing nutrients.

Sugary Cereals Alternative: Unsweetened whole grain cereals like plain oatmeal, steel-cut oats, or bran flakes. You can add your own toppings like fresh fruit, nuts, and a touch of cinnamon to sweeten naturally. Be mindful of portion sizes because these options are still high in carbohydrates. It’s best to keep total carbohydrates at 20-25 grams per meal.

Alcohol Alternative: If you choose to drink, do so in moderation and opt for lower-sugar options like dry wines, light beer, or spirits mixed with soda water. You can also try mocktails made with sparkling water and fresh fruit.

Fast Food Alternative: Homemade versions of your favorite fast foods. For example, make your own burgers using ground meat and serve them on whole grain buns with lots of veggies. For pizza, use whole grain crusts and load them with vegetables and protein.

High-Sugar Fruits Alternative: Lower-sugar fruits like berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries), apples, grapefruit, and melons. These fruits are lower on the glycemic index and contain more fiber.


Simple Swaps to Manage Prediabetes Without Deprivation

Managing prediabetes through diet can be both effective and enjoyable with some smart dietary hacks. Here are some practical tips to help you make healthier choices and keep your blood sugar levels in check:

Portion Control: Use smaller plates and bowls to help control portion sizes. This simple trick can prevent overeating and help manage blood sugar levels.

Fiber-Rich Foods: Incorporate more fiber into your meals by adding vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and fruits. Fiber slows down the absorption of sugar, helping to maintain steady blood sugar levels. For example, add a handful of spinach to your morning smoothie or sprinkle chia seeds on your yogurt.

Healthy Snacking: Keep healthy snacks on hand to avoid reaching for sugary or high-carb options. For example, have a mix of nuts and seeds, Greek yogurt, or veggie sticks with hummus available for when hunger strikes.

Balanced Meals: Ensure each meal includes a balance of protein, healthy fats, and fiber. This combination helps keep you full longer and prevents blood sugar spikes. For example, a balanced meal might include grilled chicken, quinoa, and a side of steamed vegetables drizzled with olive oil.

Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Sometimes thirst is mistaken for hunger, leading to unnecessary snacking. For example, carry a reusable water bottle with you and set reminders to take a sip regularly.

Healthy Swaps: Make healthier versions of your favorite dishes by swapping out ingredients. For example, use cauliflower rice instead of white rice, or replace pasta with zucchini noodles (zoodles).

Mindful Eating: Practice mindful eating by slowing down and paying attention to your food. This can help you recognize when you’re full and prevent overeating. For example, put down your fork between bites, chew thoroughly, and savor the flavors.

Limit Added Sugars: Read food labels to identify and reduce added sugars in your diet. Opt for natural sweeteners like stevia or monk fruit when you need a sweet fix. For example, sweeten your oatmeal with fresh berries instead of brown sugar.

Meal Planning and Prep: Plan and prepare your meals in advance to avoid the temptation of unhealthy options when you’re hungry. For example, spend a few hours on the weekend prepping ingredients and portioning out meals for the week.

Healthy Fats: Incorporate healthy fats like avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil into your diet to help improve satiety, reduce cravings and slow digestion. For example, add avocado slices to your salad or snack on a small handful of almonds.

Smart Carbs: Choose complex carbohydrates over simple carbs. Complex carbs are digested more slowly, leading to a gradual rise in blood sugar. For example, opt for sweet potatoes instead of regular potatoes, and whole grain bread over white bread.

Protein at Every Meal: Include a source of protein in every meal to help stabilize blood sugar levels. For example, add eggs or tofu to your breakfast, turkey or roast beef to your lunch, and shrimp or fish to your dinner.

Exercise Regularly: Combine a healthy diet with regular physical activity to help manage blood sugar levels effectively. For example, aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise, like brisk walking or cycling, most days of the week.

By incorporating these dietary hacks into your routine, you can effectively manage prediabetes and enjoy a variety of delicious, nutritious foods.

Take Control of Your Prediabetes

Prediabetes is a wake-up call, but it’s one you can answer with the right dietary changes. By avoiding the worst foods and embracing healthier options, you can take charge of your health and prevent the progression to type 2 diabetes. Remember, small changes can make a big difference. Start with these simple swaps, stay informed about your food choices, and work with your healthcare provider to tailor your diet to your needs. Managing prediabetes with diet not only helps control blood sugar but also boosts your overall well-being.


Did you know that a steam sauna can improve blood sugar?

Yes, that’s right! And there are many other easy ways to improve blood sugar. Addressing prediabetes doesn’t have to be hard. Ready to improve your blood sugar without changing your diet? Sign up for my FREE mini course, 10 Ways to Improve Blood Sugar Without Changing Your Diet. It’s a free email course, and it’s a fast and easy way to learn 10 impactful tips to begin balancing your blood sugar TODAY! Learn more 




bottom of page