When I was a young girl, only “old” people had diabetes. We never in our wildest dreams could imagine that a young person could be struck with this disease. That is definitely not the case nowadays. The prevalence of diabetes has increased drastically over the years and now young and old alike are plagued with this awful disease. Have you had the misfortune of being diagnosed with diabetes? I’m sure you all know that with this diagnosis comes many changes in lifestyle. Well at least we know that the doctors will instruct their patients to change their lifestyle and dietary habits. As to whether there is compliance with these instructions….. that’s another story altogether. The greatest change usually recommended is the diet. It is certainly not an easy change because you are accustomed to certain types of food, but if you have this disease you have to make the decision to change. The question though is, What is the Best Diet for Diabetics?
What is Diabetes
Before we even go into the matter of diet, what really is diabetes?
Simply put, diabetes is a disease that occurs when your blood glucose (also called blood sugar) is too high.
There are two main types of diabetes; Type 1 diabetes which is sometimes called juvenile diabetes and Type 2 diabetes which is sometimes referred to as adult onset diabetes.
Glucose is the main source of energy and we get glucose from the food we eat. However, this glucose does not do us much good if it is floating around in the blood and not able to get into the cells. Insulin is the hormone that helps glucose to get from the blood into the cells.
The problem for the person with type 1 diabetes is that the body does not make insulin. That person will have to take insulin to stay alive.
With type 2 diabetes however, the body does make insulin but it cannot use the insulin effectively. This is the most common type of diabetes and it almost always occurs as a result lifestyle choices… in particular, poor diet.
So back to the cell. If your insulin production and efficiency is not up to par then you would have problems with glucose entering the cells. This results in the glucose remaining for a long time in the blood resulting in a high blood glucose level.
Overtime, having too much glucose in your blood can cause serious health problems. Because there is not much pain and suffering in the early stages of diabetes, some patients find it hard to make the sacrifices necessary to treat and manage this disease. What this can lead to unfortunately, is kidney disease, heart disease, stroke, blindness, nerve damage, foot problems etc.
It is therefore extremely important that you take steps to manage or even reverse your diabetes.
The Relationship between Diet and Diabetes
A study called the Adventist Health Study was done to determine the relationship between the prevalence of Type 2 diabetes and a vegetarian diet. Seventh Day Adventist (a religious denomination) practice healthy lifestyle. They don’t smoke or drink alcohol and most of them don’t drink caffeinated beverages. Many of them follow a vegetarian diet but some don’t. This makes this religious group a perfect sample to test the effects of diet on certain diseases and health conditions.
In this study the participants were grouped in various categories; Non-vegetarian, semi-vegetarian (mainly plant based diet but occasionally includes meat), pesco-vegetarian (eats fish but no other meat), , lacto-ovo-vegetarian (eats eggs and dairy but no meat or fish), and vegan (eats no animal product whatever).
The results of the study showed that the prevalence of Type 2 diabetes was directly related to the diet.
Non-vegetarians had a 7.6% prevalence
Semi-vegetarians had a 6.1% prevalence
Pesco-vegetarians had a 4.8% prevalence
Lacto-ovo vegetarians had at 3.2% prevalence
Vegans had a 2.9% prevalence
Those are astounding results. It clearly shows that’s a vegan diet significantly reduces your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
Is it the bread or the rice?
When I speak with my diabetic friends and relatives about their diet and the changes they have made, they will very often speak about the fact that they don’t eat bread are rice. At least not very often. They also try to cut down on their carbohydrates in general because they say it turns into sugar. Yes, that is true. Carbohydrate does turn into sugar and it doesn’t hurt to cut down on bread and rice especially if it is white bread and white rice. But is it really the bread and the rice that is a problem?
Look at Japan. Their diet is mainly rice. And before the introduction of fast food a few decades ago their incidence of diabetes was extremely low. Maybe 1 to 3% of the population. So if it is not the rice what is it? What should you as a diabetic be careful about when it comes to your diet?
The answer is fat. That is the enemy of the diabetic.
When you have type 2 diabetes you have insulin and you have the receptors that the insulin should attach to but fat in the cell is preventing the normal process from taking place. Oh yes. The fat is the culprit. It could be chicken fat, beef fat, fryer fat, vegetable oil, olive oil, even the good old extra virgin olive oil. It is still fat and it enters the cells and results in insulin not being able to carry out its function. If you get the fat out of the cells, then the diabetes can improve.
What is this diet?
I know you must be anxious to find out what is this fantastic diet that can help you manage diabetes. You are going to be surprised when you hear how simple it is. I am sure you have heard of the many restrictions in the normally recommended diabetic diet …. what you can and cannot eat, how much of what you should eat, how many calories per day etc. Well this diet is not going to be complicated at all.
Are you ready for it? Here it is.
Remove animal products from your diet and you use minimal oil.
I bet you are waiting for more. There’s nothing more. That’s it.
Can it really work?, you are wondering. It most certainly can. Many people have been able to reverse their diabetes as well as enjoy other significant health improvements on this diet.
Where is the Protein?
This question comes up every so often when somebody goes on a plant based diet. So many people still believe that our only source of protein is meat. That is definitely not the case. There is no shortage of protein for persons on a plant-based diet. Peas and beans and seeds and nuts are great sources of protein.
So how do you go about adopting this diet?
For the first week all you will do is just check out the possibilities. You are going on a diet that has no animal products so check out all foods that you like that fall into this category. You will be surprised at the amount that you come up with. You already eat lots of fruits and veggies, I hope, and that’s a start.
Make a list of some of the foods you think you might enjoy for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.
For example breakfast could be:
- Banana blueberry pancake
- Granola cereal with almond milk
- Chickpea omelette
- Oatmeal with fruits and nuts
- Overnight oats
- Fruit salad
- Chia pudding
- Scrambled tofu or cauliflower with toast
Lunch could be:
- Chickpea wrap
- Curried cauliflower and lentil salad
- Roasted veggie quinoa bowl
- Split pea soup
- Veggie burger
- Three bean stew
Dinner could be:
- Sweet potato chickpea buddha bowl
- Garlic pasta with roasted tomatoes
- Baked quinoa black bean falafel
- Curried lentil and sweet potato bowl
- Vegan Mac & cheese
Snack could be:
- Hummus dip with veggies or oil free chips
- Frozen fruits
- Roasted chickpeas
- Dried fruits
- Fresh fruits
- Vegan trail mix
How do these “no animal products” food sound? They sound delicious, don’t they? And we have only just scratched the surface. There are so many options. You can search google and YouTube for numerous recipes that you can try.
Now that you have your list of foods that you like, or wish to try, you are ready to begin this diet.
So this is what you are going to do. You are going to remove all animal products from your diet and you will use minimal amounts of oil. You are going to stay on this diet for the next 3 weeks.
Why three weeks, you ask? Well it has been said that a new habit forms if a task is done repetitiously for 21 days. So take these 3 weeks and eat all vegan every day for all 21 days.
It’s not that long. You can do it. You will find out that you start to feel much better physically. Not only will your glucose level start to normalize but your overall health will improve. Your blood pressure problems will improve, you will lose some of your excess weight, you will just feel better overall. And don’t be surprised if you want to continue the diet for another 3 weeks and then another and another. Actually, that is what we hope you will do.
A word of caution: If you are taking medication for your diabetes ensure that you tell your doctor in advance that you are doing this because this diet is very powerful and your blood sugar might drop too low if you are doing this diet and on medication at the same time.
So now you are armed with the best weapon to fight your diabetes. Embrace this new diet and go to war. Victory will be yours.
Share your experiences with this diet in the comments section below.