If you are prediabetic or at risk for Type 2 diabetes, there is a good chance that your doctor recommended that you lose some weight or make sure you don't gain any extra pounds. On the other end, your doctor probably told you to eat more healthy fat from nuts, in order to help manage your blood sugar.
Yet, we all know that nuts are super rich in calories, so how the heck are we going to eat more nuts and lose weight at the same time?
Let me tell you what you can do to avoid the extra calories and extra pounds, in the following 7 tips (and a BONUS!). These tips are easy to apply and straight-forward (as opposed to most information about prediabetes reversal!). They will help you navigate the nut aisle like a pro and keep your nuts in check! And by the way, if you are not sure yet whether you should eat nuts at all to help prevent diabetes, check out my article "I am prediabetic, should I eat nuts?"
Tip #1: Replace saturated fats with nuts
Do NOT eat nuts on top of saturated fat! Look at what you eat every day and see where fat is coming from. When you see saturated fat (mostly animal fat), think about replacing that food item or part of it with nuts. If you need help identifying saturated fats in your life, contact me, I'll be happy to point you in the right direction.
Tip #2: Trade unhealthy food for nuts
Do not eat nuts to replace a cup of fruits! Nuts have fiber, good fat, and many other nutritional benefits. So you will want to eat them instead of unhealthy food. But don't start eating them instead of other super healthy foods. If you are used to eating fruits for snack, you can add a few nuts to that piece of fruit. Don't replace the piece of fruit with nuts! Adding nuts to a carb-rich snack will also help monitor your blood glucose, so that's a double win. Nuts can be a great way to make your snacks and meals more balanced.
Tip #3: Don’t have nuts in sight
Unless they are not very appealing to you, you don’t want to be tempted nonstop by a jar full of cashews or pine nuts. Store them away in your pantry. If you love them, you will remember to eat them anyway. But make sure you cannot just grab a handful every time you enter your kitchen, it would be a weight loss killer.
Tip #4: Measure and stick to it
Decide on a serving size (about 15 almonds) and ALWAYS stick to that serving size. Measure and put your stash away before you start eating your nuts. If you want more, that’s fine, come back and get a second serving (and don't feel bad about it!). But don’t just dig your hand in a bag full of nuts. Measure, one serving, EVERY SINGLE TIME. Better yet, before each serving, drink a cup of water. This way you will also get the full benefit of all the fibers in your nuts and your stomach will end up being full much faster.
Tip #5: Choose whole, plain, not blanched nuts
They can be roasted or not, whatever you prefer, but unless that's all you like, avoid nuts that are covered in chocolate or in a sweet mix. Ideally, pick them in their shell, so that you eat them more slowly. This way you will eat one nut at a time rather than a handful at once. Remember, the more work it is to eat them, the less you will eat at once. It’s a simple trick but it works every time and it can make a huge difference calorie wise.
Tip #6: Nuts are not a "free add-on"!
If you don’t eat much fat or have no saturated fat you can eliminate from your diet (because don’t forget, we all some good fat!), then make sure that when you eat nuts, you are eating a bit less of all the other high-calorie foods in your life. For instance, eat less dairy, less meat, less bread, or maybe drink a less alcohol (beer, wine, liquor). You don’t need to substitute. Just eat or drink smaller portions so that the nuts don't come on top of everything else. Remember: the add-on item is not a free item :-).
Tip #7: Nut butter counts... big time!
If you eat peanut butter or almond butter, don’t forget to include that as part of your nut intake. It usually takes less than 2 TBSP of nut butter to get the same nutrients as with 1 oz of nuts. So don't just dismiss the butter, because that adds up as well.
Bonus Tips: don't skip this one!
Pick the nuts you really enjoy. Don't eat anything and everything. Only eat your favorite nuts. Try them all and eat the ones that give you the most pleasure. Nuts are high calorie and high fat, so they should also be high reward for you, otherwise, it's not worth it!
When it comes to food, prediabetes reversal is often a combination of eating healthy, losing weight, and controlling blood sugar. With nuts like with pretty much anything else, just being mindful of what you eat and when you eat it will help you keep things under control. And also being aware of the traps you might fall into. So prepare and follow the tips above and you will set yourself up for success.
I know you can do it, but it you feel that you need a extra support establishing a healthy lifestyle, reach out!