This week I received the following question from http://foodpicker.org:
I have pre-diabetes and am trying to lose weight. How many servings of fruit and veggies should I have each day?
Losing weight is one of the primary recommendations your doctor will give you when you are diagnosed with pre-diabetes. Excess fat, particularly in the abdominal region puts you at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Lifestyle changes to reduce your weight and to live an overall healthier lifestyle can prevent disease progression. Replacing unhealthy, high calorie food choices with fruits and vegetables is an excellent way to start this process.
To answer your question, aim for 3-5 servings of vegetables and 2-4 servings of fruit a day. A serving size of vegetables is considered 1 cup raw or 1/2 cup cooked, and a fruit serving is considered a small piece of fresh or 1/2 cup of canned. Fruit and starchy vegetables such as potatoes, corn, peas, or lima beans are considered carbohydrates, but if eaten in moderation they are fine (see my post on carb counting for more information). Non-starchy vegetables, however, I often tell patients that if they’re still hungry they should go for these. They contain minimal amounts of carbohydrate and are good for you.
Fruits and vegetables have less calories yet more vitamins and minerals that can improve your overall health, and fiber for lower cholesterol and improved heart health. I mention this because those at risk for diabetes are also at a higher risk for heart disease.
Give it a try, and go for variety to keep your meals interesting. Frozen and fresh produce are the best, as canned can be high in sodium/sugar. Shoot for the most colorful fruits and vegetables, they tend to be the most nutrient packed and beneficial. The CDC has a great website for recipe ideas, more information regarding serving sizes, and budget tips:
Last but not least, if you find yourself discouraged along your path towards a healthy weight, don’t give up. Losing just 5-10% of your body weight greatly increases insulin sensitivity and further reduces your risk for developing diabetes.