Book Review: The Pre-Diabetes Diet Plan

Type 2 diabetes runs in my family, and the knowledge that healthy food and regular physical activity can go a long way toward preventing and even treating this condition was one of the driving forces behind my decision to become a registered dietitian nutritionist. I also enjoy writing about issues related to nutrition and health, making even the more science-y parts understandable and useful to those who are not so scientifically inclined. 

Given all that, I was delighted to have the opportunity to review the new book The Prediabetes Diet Plan: How to Reverse Prediabetes and Prevent Diabetes through Healthy Eating and Exercise by Hillary Wright, M.Ed, RD. (I had hoped to review it back in November, which was National Diabetes Month, but that clearly did not happen). I had read Wright’s previous book, The PCOS Diet Plan, and hoped that this new book would be as well put-together. I was not disappointed.

Prediabetes is the term for having blood sugar levels that are higher than normal, but not high enough for to be considered full-blown type 2 diabetes. Even though blood sugar at the prediabetes level doesn’t produce symptoms, damage to the body is already happening. The good news, as Wright explains, is that it’s easier to turn things around when you have prediabetes than it is when you have full-blown diabetes.
In Part 1, Wright does a thorough job of explaining prediabetes and what causes it. She gets into the nitty gritty of what’s going in in your body if your blood sugar is high, using medical and physiological terms appropriately (i.e., explaining them when needed, and avoiding unnecessary jargon). She discusses how it is diagnosed, what the risk factors are, and what evidence-based interventions have been shown to work.
In Part 2, Wright discusses how to prevent diabetes by managing both the quality and the quantity of the carbohydrate-rich foods you eat. She explains how to do this through both a balanced plate approach and a carb counting approach (which is important, because some people really prefer one approach over the other). There are lots of food lists for reference, and while she doesn’t include recipes in the book, she gives lots of ideas for pulling together meals and snacks that promote healthy blood sugar levels. (There are also sample meal plans in the back of the book.)
Part 3 covers how exercise and a modest amount of weight loss can improve blood sugar levels. She discusses what science says, then offers lots of useful tips and strategies. Also important is a chapter on how to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, which is important because the risk of heart attack and stroke is much higher in people with diabetes.
Part 4 talks about which supplements may be worth taking, then offers useful tips on how to make healthy choices at the grocery store and when dining out. In the grocery chapter, she offers both detailed lists (often including brand names) and general guidelines, which is useful if you don’t happen to see your usual brand on the list.
Perhaps my favorite section is Part 5, which talks about developing a healthy mindset. It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you feel like some big health catastrophe might be looming if you don’t make the “right” changes, especially if the changes you need to make are very different than what you are used to. She gives guidance on devising your own plan, one small, realistic step at at time, and discusses the importance of asking for support and tending to your emotional needs. Although this section is short, Wright integrates other “mind-set interventions” throughout the book, which is helpful.
Ultimately, Wright presents the reader with thorough information and practical strategies for forming healthier habits, but takes the extra step of acknowledging that her readers are human beings with fears and feelings. She strives to not simply tell people what to do, but to empower them to take control of their health. I think she succeeds, and would strongly recommend this book to anyone who has prediabetes themselves or wants to understand it better because a friend or family member has it. I should note, as Wright does herself, that this book is meant to be used to prevent diabetes, not to manage it.

Disclaimer: I received a courtesy copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for reviewing it, but my opinions are fully my own.