For people living with diabetes, diet is essential in maintaining overall health. If you have diabetes, then your body cannot produce or properly use insulin. This can lead to high blood sugar levels. It’s crucial you manage your blood sugar levels to prevent any potential complications of the disease.
There is no one-size-fits-all for diabetic diets. However, a number of diet styles tend to benefit diabetics the most. Compiled below are three healthy diabetic diets.
Three Healthy Diabetic Diets
Vegetarian and vegan diets have a number of variations. However, they mostly are free from meat, poultry, seafood, and fish products. Listed below are three of the most common subsets of vegetarian and vegan diets.
Vegan: A healthy vegan diet consists primarily of whole, plant-based foods. These can include foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains, and beans. People following a vegan diet will steer clear of all meat, poultry, fish, seafood, eggs, and dairy products. Some vegans still choose to include honey in their diet, though it’s typically not recommended for diabetics, due to the high sugar content.
Lacto-vegetarian: With this subset, your diet will consist primarily of the same aforementioned plant-based foods. However, dairy products such as yogurt, milk, and cheese also will be included. All meat, poultry, fish, seafood, and eggs still will be avoided.
Lacto-ovo vegetarian: This diet is similar to the previous vegetarian diet. However, eggs also are included. With subset, the only foods avoided are meat, poultry, fish, and seafood.
Initial studies have shown vegetarian/vegan diets reduce the risk of obesity, heart disease, cancer, and, of course, diabetes.
The Mediterranean diet primarily is comprised of plant-based foods, similar to the vegetarian and vegan diets. However, small amounts of fish, poultry, and dairy products are included. Olive oil typically is the main source of fat in this diet. Red meat is limited.
Research has shown the Mediterranean diet can protect against heart disease, stroke, and cancer. In addition, it may improve blood sugar levels as well as lead to weight loss.
3. The Diabetes Plate
This diet commonly is used for people with diabetes, and begins with using a nine-inch plate. This is often a smaller-sized plate than most people typically use. The idea with this approach is filling half of the nine-inch plate with non-starchy vegetables, such as broccoli, green beans, and kale. Then another quarter of the plate should be filled with lean proteins, such as chicken, turkey, and fish. Finally, the last quarter will be filled with healthy carbohydrates, such as fruits, grains, and more vegetables.
The aforementioned diets are just a few of the popular ones for those living with diabetes. Overall, the most important thing is finding a diet that is sustainable in the long-term for you.
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) has put together the following dietary guidelines to help those with diabetes manage their disease:
- Limit foods high in sugar
- Eat smaller portions, spread out over the day
- Eat at the same times every day to maintain steady glucose levels
- Be mindful of how many carbohydrates you consume
- Eat a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains every day
- Eat less fat
- Limit alcohol consumption
- Use less salt
Best Foods to Control Blood Sugar
In addition to following a specific diet, a number of foods specifically will help to control blood sugar levels. By incorporating these foods into your diet, your diabetes will be better controlled.
Non-starchy vegetables: These can include veggies such as mushrooms, onions, eggplant, broccoli, and zucchini. Adding veggies to your meals is a great way to add more color, flavor, and texture. The best way to eat these vegetables is raw. However, you also can choose to cook them. If you cook your veggies, be sure to choose a cooking method free from excessive fat and salt, such as roasting, water-sauteing or steaming.
Greens: Another incredibly beneficial food group for diabetics is greens. Choose non-starchy greens, such as kale, spinach, and chard. Not only are these greens extremely healthy, they are also an easy way to switch up your standard salads.
Whole grain, high-fiber foods: By filling up your plate with foods high in fiber and/or whole grain foods, you can more easily keep from overeating or choosing unhealthy alternatives. Add foods such as beans, peas, lentils, and quinoa to your meals. Even though these foods still have carbohydrates, they also are rich in protein and fiber, which helps you to stay fuller longer.
Many people with diabetes are beginning to seek alternative therapies to manage their disease. One of the most popular therapies is CBD. Initial research has shown CBD to be incredibly beneficial in managing diabetes’ symptoms. In addition, there are little to no side effects associated with CBD consumption. So, those looking to move away from traditional pharmaceuticals may benefit from adding CBD to their treatment regimen.
→ For more information on how CBD can benefit those with diabetes, click here.
While managing diabetes is no easy feat, your diet largely will determine its impact on your overall health. Use the aforementioned guidelines to tailor your diet to your specific health/dietary needs and goals.