It must have been a terrible day when you got the news that you are diabetic. You probably left the doctor’s office and went out with great resolve to stop eating any food that might make the condition worse. Unfortunately, like many others, you quickly fell back into the habit of eating any and everything.
Does this sound familiar? Did I hit the nail on the head?
The truth is, you probably don’t even know what is the best diet for diabetes.
Well it’s not too late to get back on the right path and I encourage you to start now.
Well I am sure you know this already but I will just remind you. Diabetes is a terrible disease. You may not be feeling many symptoms now but uncontrolled diabetes wreaks havoc on the body and results in many serious effects later in life such as kidney failure, nerve disease, cardiovascular diseases and blindness.
Chances are you are currently on medication prescribed by your doctor. Hopefully it is keeping your sugar under control. But some of these medications have such terrible side effects, don’t they? Wouldn’t it be great if you could keep your diabetes under control without having to take so much medication?
Well good news. Diet and lifestyle are key to controlling blood sugar levels.
My friend did it, so can you.
My friend found out he was diabetic when he went to the doctor and after performing a blood test they realized that his glucose reading was way too high. It was about 500 mg/dL (28 mmol/L) when it should not be more than 110 mg/dL (6.1 mmol/L).
Of course, he was put on medication. However, after a short time he decided that he really did not like this method and decided to change his diet to see if it would help. The result is that he was able to get off his medication and has maintained normal glucose levels since.
Do you want that experience too? I will tell you how it can be done.
Before I go any further however, just a bit of advice;
Please do not make changes to your diet and medication without consulting your doctor.
So what’s the best diet for diabetes?
I am just going to go right out and say it. No beating around the bush.
The best diet is a vegetarian diet.
According to the Cleveland Clinic research has shown that following a vegetarian diet can help you better manage your diabetes. It has also been shown to help prevent or reverse type 2 diabetes.
There. It’s out.
But you knew that, didn’t you? You must have heard that before, somewhere, somehow……..from a friend…..family….maybe even on TV.
Are you wondering if it is really true? Are you thinking that a vegetarian diet might be deficient in the nutrients you will need to control your diabetes and maintain good health? Well you don’t need to worry. You will be able to eat healthy on a vegetarian diet.
Okay. I am going to lay it out for you.
I am sure you already know about carbohydrates, proteins and fats.
Fats provide energy and also makes you feel satisfied after a meal.
Proteins are the body’s building blocks utilized in building and repairing tissue.
Carbohydrates is the most talked about in relation to diabetes.
There are two types: simple and complex carbohydrate.
The main function of carbohydrates in your diet is to provide energy and fuel to your body, especially your brain.
All carbohydrates are broken down into sugar to supply the body with energy.
Simple carbohydrates or carbs as they are commonly called are found in foods such as sugar, honey, sodas, concentrated fruit juices, pies, baked treats, packaged cookies, crackers.
Complex carbs are found in foods such as starchy vegetables, whole wheat bread, whole grains, rice, peas and beans.
Complex carbohydrates also contain fiber and the presence of this fiber helps to slow down the absorption of sugar in the blood and prevent spikes in the blood glucose levels.
Carbs in recent times have gotten a bad rap and people are excluding it from their diet. They think it is a bad food but as you can see, not all carbs are created equal and the brain really depends on it for energy. So yes. Carbs are important….even for diabetics. You just need to monitor the amount and type that you eat.
What exactly is diabetes?
Simply put, diabetes is a problem with your body that causes blood glucose (sugar) levels to rise higher than normal.
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form and is sometimes referred to as adult onset diabetes or insulin resistant diabetes.
It is considered a lifestyle disease and factors such as being overweight, physically inactive and eating the wrong kinds foods all contribute to our risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
You probably know all these facts already and I suppose you are anxious to get to the actual diet that is best for diabetes.
Okay. Let’s go right to that.
Let’s look at a few principles regarding this diet
- If diabetes is a disease that causes your blood sugar to rise higher than normal then it follows that you would want a diet that is not high in sugar.
- Carbohydrate is broken down into glucose in the body so again it follows that you would want a low carb diet.
- Fiber helps control blood sugar levels. In people with diabetes, fiber — particularly soluble fiber — can slow the absorption of sugar and help improve blood sugar levels. It therefore makes sense to want a diet high in fiber.
- Diabetes makes heart disease more likely, so eating foods lower in unhealthy fats, especially saturated and trans fats, is particularly important to keep that risk as low as possible.
Let’s summarize this.
The best diet for diabetes is one that is low in sugar, low in carbs, high in fiber and low in saturated and trans fat.
This simply boils down to eating the healthiest foods, in moderate amounts, and sticking to regular mealtimes.
Put another way, a diabetes diet is an eating plan that’s naturally rich in nutrients and low in fat and calories. Key elements are vegetables, whole grains and fruits.
Hey, wait a minute. That sounds like the best eating plan for everyone……..sick or healthy.
That’s right. The diabetes diet is in fact the best eating plan for just about every condition.
What to Eat
Now don’t go panicking and thinking that you are days of enjoying delicious meals are over. That is definitely not the case. It just means that you are going to pay special attention to what you eat, how much you eat and when you eat. Don’t worry. There is a variety of choices available for you.
I could tell you that diabetics need to ensure that carbs make up less than 45 – 65% of total calories. Then you would have to calculate how many calories that would work out to and from that you calculate the amount of grams of carbs you need in each meal.
I can just imagine some of you already starting to sweat from all that mathematical gymnastics.
Don’t worry. We are not going down that road at all. After all I don’t want to make it so complicated that you will give up easily. Oh no. The method I will share with you is ever so simple.
All you have to do is to adopt the following principle when you are serving your food.
- Fill half of you are plate with non starchy vegetables
- Fill quarter of you are plate with grain foods/starchy vegetables
- Fill the remaining quarter of you are plate with protein
- This plate method allows for a serving of fruit on the side
- Healthy fat can be used in the preparation of the food in any section of the plate.
- Drink water or unsweetened herbal tea if you so desire
That is not so hard, is? Just keep doing that every day and vary the different grains, proteins, vegetable etc. as you desire. The key is to make sure that when you go to the supermarket, you buy only the healthy foods that you will be eating.
Do not stock you are pantry with unhealthy food options which will just serve as a temptation.
Consider these foods when you go shopping.
These are just examples. It’s not an exhaustive list.
Whole grains such as brown rice, bulgar, quinoa, oats, whole wheat pasta, whole grain breads such as 100% whole wheat bread.
Potatoes, corn, cassava, sweet potato, yam, breadfruit, green banana, ripe plantain, pumpkin, squash.
Vegetable (Non starchy)
Spinach, kale, callaloo, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, okra, bell pepper, pak choi, cucumber, lettuce, tomato, string beans, carrot, beetroot, onions, eggplant.
Peas and beans, seeds, nuts, tofu.
Peas and beans such as lentils, split peas, black beans, chick peas, red kidney beans.
Seeds such as flax, chia, sunflower, pumpkin, sesame.
Nuts such as walnut, almond, pecan.
Berries (such as strawberry, raspberry, blueberry), orange, banana, cherry, guava, apple, papaya, cantaloupe, watermelon, pineapple, plum, star fruit……….there are so many more to choose from.
Just remember that you need to have the fruit in moderation because they usually have a high sugar content. In terms of low sugar content, the berries are the best choice.
Healthy fats such as Olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds.
Tip: Use oil and not butter to cook. Avocado, nuts and seeds make a healthy addition to salads.
Check out these six protein dinner recipes. They will give you some ideas as to how you can go about preparing delicious vegetarian meals.
It looks do-able so far, doesn’t it? Lots and lots of choices.
Bye, bye foods
You might not want to hear this but if you really want to manage your glucose levels by adopting a healthy diet, some things will just have to go.
The truth is that some foods are just terrible for you if you are diabetic. You will have to try your best to wean yourself from these foods and substitute with healthy options.
Foods such as:
sodas and other sugary beverages
processed snacks such as potato chips, crackers,
white flour products such as cakes, muffins
I hear you groaning, but hey, remember those delicious, healthy, nutrient packed food that you will be substituting. After a while you won’t even have the desire for those unhealthy foods that you used to eat.
I know you want your glucose to be controlled.
I know you don’t want to have to depend on high doses of prescription medication to keep your glucose in check.
Well now you know there is another option.
It’s all up to you and you can do it.
I don’t know if you are one of those persons who need a little nudge in the area of physical activity but I will throw out a little reminder anyhow. Don’t forget regular physical exercise.
Well that’s it.
Go ahead. Get moving. Make the change.
I would love to know of your success.
Please share in the comments section below.