Despite the prefix, prediabetes is a serious health condition. Individuals with prediabetes have higher than normal blood glucose levels but not high enough for a type 2 diabetes diagnosis. The British Medical Journal estimates that 1 in 3 adults in England have prediabetes and many don’t know they have it because it rarely shows symptoms. There can be various reasons one develops prediabetes but often diet is a contributing factor. Although adjusting your diet to a certain extent is needed, small tweaks to your lifestyle as a whole can have a huge impact in reversing prediabetes.


Most plant-based foods contain carbohydrates, and they all behave the same way once digested. They get broken down into sugar (glucose) by the body, raising the sugar levels in the blood. Fruits, vegetables and whole grains are healthy sources of carbohydrates because they contain numerous vitamins, minerals and most importantly, fibre. Fibre can’t be broken down by the body thus slowing down the digestion and the sugar spike. Be mindful of what you have with your carbohydrates. Pairing them with protein or healthy fats can help reduce the blood glucose spike. Some pairing ideas are oatcakes with cheese (protein) and avocado (healthy fats), brown pasta cooked al dente with chicken (protein) and olives (healthy fats), and banana with peanut butter (protein and healthy fats).  Ultra-processed products such as cakes, cookies and sweets are high in added sugar and starch, a type of sugar that causes a rapid blood sugar spike. Pair your dessert with natural yogurt (protein) and mixed seeds (healthy fats) for a reduced blood sugar spike.


Have you ever felt unusually hungry after a bad night’s sleep? Research shows that lack of sleep can affect our appetite and satiety hormones. We are also more likely to reach for more fatty and sugary snacks because the brain’s pleasure centres are more sensitive when sleep deprived. Prioritise sleep to keep your hormones balanced. If you struggle to fall asleep or keep waking up throughout the night, think about how you can improve your sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene, a phrase describing habits and behaviours that support good quality sleep, also refers to the environment you sleep and spend time in before bedtime. Starting in the morning, expose yourself to early daylight whenever possible, for at least 15 minutes, As this supports a healthy sleep-wake cycle. In the evening, provide yourself with a calm, clutter-free space with dim lighting. When preparing for bed, do things that calm down the nervous system such as a warm bath, gentle stretching, reading or drinking herbal tea. Be mindful of devices emitting blue light before bedtime, such as laptops, phones and TVs.


Physical activity is one of the best ways to improve sleep quality and blood sugar levels. Movement helps cells accept insulin better, which is great news for prediabetics. Any activity is beneficial, and just a simple walk shortly after eating helps reduce the glucose in the blood because your muscles need it for energy. According to an article published in the Diabetes Care publication, this effect is immediate and can last up to 24 to 48 hours, depending on how long and intensely you walk.


The National Institute of Health estimates that up to 80% of all GP visits in the UK are linked to stress. Stress can come in many forms with poor diet, insufficient sleep, and a lack of movement are all a type of stress in the body. While stress doesn’t directly cause prediabetes, it can play an indirect role by affecting our eating habits, weight and hormones. When stressed the body releases glucose from the liver and muscles into the bloodstream. The purpose is to provide instant energy for us to deal with the threat. Many modern stressors don’t require us to use the fight or flight response. In fact, as a society, we are more sedentary than ever, and often the excess glucose doesn’t get used. Instead, it cumulates in the bloodstream, which can contribute to weight gain, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. It is impossible to remove all stressors from our lives but we can learn to manage and subsequently reduce our stress response. Look after your well-being by getting adequate sleep, enjoying a nourishing and varied diet and moving your body daily. In addition, I encourage you to think about the most prominent stressors in your life. These could be a persistently full social calendar, heavy workloads or financial worries. Can you ask for help or change anything about this situation to make it less stressful? There are also simple, 5-minute techniques that can be done throughout the day, such as taking slow, deep breaths. It’s also important to do something you enjoy every day.

A complete lifestyle overhaul may feel daunting and can be short-lived. If you want to make lifestyle changes around the topics mentioned in the article, a Health Coach can help you make a sustainable and manageable plan that’s individual for you. Visit for more information.

Tiina is a certified health & nutrition coach specialising in helping people reverse their prediabetes diagnosis. She lives in Bath with her husband. When she is not coaching, she loves travelling and being active outdoors.