The best Diabetes Diet Plan is the one that truly nourishes your body, helps you to lower blood sugar while preventing blood glucose dips, and eventually fix your metabolism to attain a healthy weight.
If you have been diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, then you may have plenty of questions around a healthy diet involving the best foods for diabetics and the foods that you should avoid in a diabetic diet. Or perhaps how to manage your weight with diabetes.
In this post, we will help you out with a healthy eating plan for diabetes & insulin resistance. Below you can also download 7 days Diabetes meal plan in pdf version to make healthy diet a pillar of success for your Diabetes treatment! This is your ultimate guide to reverse Diabetes with your diet.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a heterogeneous health disorder in which blood glucose level rises above normal values due to the body’s inability to process the sugar into energy. A large majority of people with diabetes also struggle with problems related to obesity and high blood pressure.
Poor metabolism in Diabetes leads to lack of energy, toxin build up and nutritional deficiencies in your body.
This impacts the functioning of multiple body systems, leading to health symptoms of fatigue, weight gain, high cholesterol levels, poor mental health, weak bones and risk of heart disease.
Types of Diabetes
Diabetes can develop in different ways:
- Type 1 Diabetes: It can occur at any age but it is mostly seen in children and young adults. Diabetes Type I occurs due to autoimmune disease or infections which causes destruction of beta cells of pancreas. This leads to low levels or absence of insulin.
- Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: It is much more common and accounts for 90-95% of all the cases of Diabetes. There is a strong correlation between Type 2 Diabetes and lifestyle factors such as physical inactivity, diet, and lifestyle.
- Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM): It occurs during pregnancy. It occurs in obese, older age women with family history. It may lead to Type 2 diabetes.
- Diabetes Secondary to disorders: As pancreatic disease, glucocorticoids use, AIDS treatment, cystic fibrosis or after organ transplantation.
- Prediabetes: An early stage of type 2 diabetes where insulin resistance is present and high blood glucose levels are observed. At this stage, it is much easier and faster to reverse the condition.
Insulin Resistance and High Blood Sugar in Type 2 Diabetes
Insulin is the primary hormone that guides our metabolism and blood sugar level. It converts and stores excess sugar in the blood in the form of fat, so that it can be used as a fuel later on.
If insulin hormone is working fine, then insulin will be able to convert the blood sugar into cellular energy. However, in case of insulin resistance our body’s cells stop responding to the excess Insulin that the pancreas produce.
This disturbs our body’s metabolism and leads to high blood glucose level.
Here, you can find more information on insulin function and insulin resistance.
Why does Diet matter?
Your Diet is the most important handle to reverse Diabetes that is solely in your own hands. Simply because, when you eat the best foods and practice a lifestyle that help you manage your blood sugar levels; then you can avoid the health risks that diabetes carries.
One thing that will really help you to successfully follow and heal with Diabetes Diet Plan is to develop an increased level of awareness of when and how much food your body needs.
This will really help you to avoid the spikes and dips in your blood glucose levels. Also, it will save you from all the hassle of measuring and fretting about what you are putting in your mouth.
Best Foods for Diabetics
Healthy Foods for Diabetics includes elements from a selection of different food groups to support insulin function and balance your blood sugar levels.
Here is a list of nutrients and healthy foods that are essential for a balanced Diabetes Diet Plan:
1. Foods rich in Fibre
Dietary Fibre has a lot of benefits. Particularly for someone who is trying to manage diabetes and aiming for weight loss. Here’s why:
- Fiber is very filling and they have a low glycemic load. They take up space so you need to eat fewer calorie before you are full.
- Furthermore, fibre regulates the digestion and absorption of other foods. Thus, they can help to regulate blood sugar levels. Fiber does this by regulating how much sugar is absorbed from the gut.
- Also, fibers help you have a healthy bowel movement.
Best Foods for Fibre
- Leafy Greens as lettuce, broccoli, spinach, etc.
- Fruits: apples, pear, grapes, etc.
- Nuts: walnuts, etc.
- Legumes: peas, beans, etc.
- Whole-grains: brown rice, wheat, etc.
2. Lean Protein
A diet rich in lean proteins have a similar benefit to fibre for diabetics. They keep you full for longer and help in weight loss. Also, they regulate the absorption of sugar in the body due to their low glycemic load.
However, unlike fibers, they do have calorific value. This means that you can get your energy requirements without loading up on too many carb.
Lean Protein foods to eat
- Whole Grains as Quinoa, Brown Rice, Amaranth and Millets
- Vegetables as cauliflower, broccoli, green beans and green peas
3. Omega 3 Fats
Yes, fats. There are different types of fats. You only need to know how to select the right kinds of fats.
While fats do not directly affect your blood sugar levels, they can do so indirectly. For example, fats can still be broken down into sugar if needed. And if you eat unhealthy fats and get obese, you will worsen your diabetes symptoms.
What are the healthy fats you should eat? You might have heard about unsaturated fatty acids. These are the ones to eat.
Healthy Fats for Diabetics
- Fatty Fish like salmon, mackerels, tuna, etc, are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
- Nuts and seeds
- Olives and Olive oil
However, do not overdo it. Fats are high in calories.
4. Complex Carbohydrates
We saved this for last. Why? It can be controversial. But you don’t need to be confused. When carbs are broken down, the final product is sugar.
Does that mean all carbohydrates are bad for someone with high blood sugar? Should you exclude carb from your diabetes meal plan completely?
No! Just like with the other food items, you just need to understand how to balance it up.
Glycemic index (GI) and carbohydrates
Glycemic index is a measure of how fast a carbohydrate food is broken down in your body. Foods with a high GI get broken down and absorbed pretty fast. Thus, they make your blood sugar levels soar. And this is something you want to avoid.
On the other hand, there are foods with a low glycemic index. These foods get broken down slowly and release their sugar slowly into your blood. Therefore, you can eat these without risking a high sugar level. These are the foods you should opt for.
With these in mind, you should already understand that carbs are not taboo. In fact, you need them. They are your body’s most readily available energy source.
Good carbohydrates for Diabetics
- Whole grains such as Bulgur, Rye, Quinoa, Brown Rice, Whole Oats, and Millets
- Legumes such as Beans and Lentils for proteins
- Vegetables with variety of colors to give you fibre, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants
Type 2 Diabetes Diet Chart: Macronutrient Ratios
35% of Meal Portion should be Fruits, vegetables, and fiber-rich foods.
25% of Meal Portion should be Complex Carbs as Whole grains, cereals, and starch-based food products
30% of Meal Portion should be Lean proteins such as lentils, beans, eggs and lean meats
10% of Meal Portion should be Healthy Fats
Foods to Avoid for Diabetics
Some foods should be avoided in a diabetic diet plan. These foods can spike your blood sugar levels and worsen your symptoms. Thus, they increase the risks of long-term health complications.
1. Saturated Fat
These unhealthy fats can raise your blood cholesterol levels and increase the risk of heart disease. Saturated fat are present in:
- Processed Foods
- High-fat animals
- High-fat dairy products
- Refined Vegetable Oils such as palm oil, canola oil and
- Full-fat cheese
- Hot dogs
2. Trans Fat
Trans fats are another type of unhealthy fat. They are present in:
- Processed foods and fried snacks
- Baked goods
- Stick margarine
- Some chips
- French fries
3. Simple Carbs and High GI Foods
Avoid carbohydrate foods with a low glycemic index. They can cause your blood sugar levels to spike in a very short time. Also, avoid simple carbohydrates. Unhealthy carb to avoid include:
- Sugar in all forms
- Foods with added sugar
- Polished and processed white Rice
- Candy and other sweets
4. Excess Salt
Sodium is readily available in a lot of processed food items. Mostly, you take sodium from salt. Limit your intake of sodium to no more than 2,300mg a day.
5. Fruits and vegetables to avoid
These would be fruits that are excessively sweet and starchy vegetable. Watch out for those and limit your intake of them. Some examples are:
- Processed fruits in the form of canned, cut and juiced fruits with additives
- Excessive consumption of very sweet fruits as banana, mango, coconut, durian and jackfruit
- Excess of tubers and starchy vegetables as potato, pumpkin and butternut squash
Helpful Health Tips for Starting a Diabetes Diet Plan
- It’s not about the diet alone. Your lifestyle also plays a huge role. Practice a healthy lifestyle to stay relaxed, get sufficient sleep and be physically active.
- Regular exercise is important for Diabetics to balance their blood sugar levels, keep stress levels down and also to improve insulin sensitivity. Do make sure to avoid over exercising.
- Eat regularly. Set specific eating times if you need to. Don’t eat too much in one sitting as it can swing your blood glucose levels upside down. Rather, split your calories into multiple small meals so that you don’t suffer hypoglycemia.
- Don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s not a crime to have a bite of your kid’s birthday cake. It’s just once a year. The most important thing is to follow a balanced diet with proper nutrition at most of the times. Following a diabetes diet shouldn’t be so hard that you start depriving yourself of everything.
- Quit smoking and shun alcohol. Both of these habits really aggravate your diabetes symptoms and make it difficult for you to recover from blood sugar swings.
- Blood sugar swings is one of the most ignored aspect of healthy diet for diabetes. While you try to avoid high blood sugar, do make sure that you are not staying hungry for extended hours, specifically when you are taking metformin. This can be dangerous as low blood glucose levels can leave you dizzy or unconscious.
7 Days Diabetes Meal Plan (Vegetarian)
Having learned the best and worst foods for diabetes, you might wonder how to do it. How do you combine these food items? Do you need any supplements? And also how to make a healthy eating plan so that you lose weight as well.
Here is a 7 days diabetes diet plan for you.
Breakfast: Vegetables Stir-fry + millets porridge
Lunch: 1 Bowl brown rice + Cowpeas soup + Cucumber Salad
Dinner: Thai Green Curry + 1 Bowl brown rice
Breakfast: Apple Cinnamon Oats Porridge
Lunch: 1 Bowl brown rice + sprouted Mung Dal + green salad
Dinner: 1 Bowl millets porridge + Mixed vegetables stir-fry
Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs with Herb muffins
Lunch: 1 Bowl brown rice + Lentils soup + ½ bowl curd
Dinner: Vegetable Khichadi or Porridge
Breakfast: Vegetables stir-fry + 1 Bowl millets porridge
Lunch: 1 Bowl brown rice + Basil Tofu Scramble + green salad
Dinner: 1 Bowl barley porridge + Mixed Vegetables
Breakfast: Apple Cinnamon Oats Porridge
Lunch: 1 Bowl brown rice + Sprouted Beans curry + cucumber salad
Dinner: 1 Bowl millets Porridge + Green beans stir-fry
Breakfast: Mung Dal Dosa (Pancake) with Mint Chutney
Lunch: Bowl brown rice + Spinach Daal + ½ bowl curd
Dinner: 1 Bowl brown rice with Veg Miso Soup
Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs with Herb muffins
Lunch: Vegetable Quinoa + green salad (stir-fry)
Dinner: Vegetable Khichadi or Porridge
Morning/Evening Snack Options
Add on these low calorie snacks in between your meals should you need to. It will help you to keep you calorie count and hunger levels in check:
- Roasted Black Gram
- Nuts and dried fruits (limited amount)
- Fresh Fruits
- Handful of sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds
- Hummus and fresh vegetables
Now that you have learnt the principles of Diabetes diet, it is time for action. This is because all the knowledge that you gained here will be futile if you do not apply it.
Start slow, do not try to make all the changes in 1 day. But, do keep up with a positive change in your diet and lifestyle such that you move towards your health goal of reversing Diabetes. It is possible and you can do it!
Below you can download 7 Days Diabetes Meal Plan pdf version for reference. If you need further support to follow the diet plan, lose weight or considering Ayurvedic treatment to manage or treat Diabetes naturally, do contact us here, we will help you out.
- Dietary and nutritional approaches for prevention and management of type 2 diabetes
- Researching a low-calorie weight management programme to put diabetes into remission
- Research reveals how diet influences diabetes risk
- Diabetes Diet, Eating, & Physical Activity
- Effect of diet on type 2 diabetes mellitus: A review