Guidelines for a Healthy Diabetes Diet

Guidelines for a Healthy Diabetes Diet

Perhaps your physician has recently told you that you have type 2 diabetes, and you are embarking on a process of learning what you should eat, and in what quantities. Or maybe you are diabetic and still seeking a simpler way to plan your meals for optimum health. Even if you are merely trying to avoid diabetes, eating as if you already had been diagnosed can improve your health and put your mind at ease.

What specific guidelines should I be following, and why?

Research suggests that you should:

  • Eat 4-5 meals per day, and make them small and roughly equal in caloric value, about 400-500 calories each.
  • Eat most of your veggies raw, because heat can damage phytonutrients; have a raw salad every day. Make sure you include cruciferous veggies at least three times per week.
  • Eat fermented vegetables a few times per week to optimize intestinal flora.
  • Aim for 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories you consume, with a minimum of 30 grams per day. A fiber-rich diet slows absorption of dietary carbohydrates.
  • Avoid all sugar, artificial sweeteners, and processed foods, especially white flour products.
  • Enjoy healthy fats like walnuts, flaxseed, and avocado in moderation.
  • Eat small servings of lean meat (think chicken or turkey) or salmon regularly.
  • Avoid alcohol and sharply limit coffee consumption if you’ve already been diagnosed with diabetes; black coffee is acceptable for individuals who do not have diabetes and are using the diet prophylactically.
  • Minimize dairy consumption. Occasional unsweetened kefir in small quantities (one cup or less) is usually well tolerated.
  • If you eat starchy veggies, consume them only in small quantities, infrequently, and try to select ones with a lower glycemic index. For example, you might choose sweet potatoes, lentils, or chickpeas instead of white potatoes. Obviously, eating small quantities of the better choices also lowers glycemic load.
  • Do not drink bottled fruit juices. Instead, choose whole, lower glycemic load fruits like grapefruit, strawberries, or plums.
  • No fast food and no fried foods.

What about the big picture?

It’s easier than you think!

  • Choose bright colored veggies, and try to maximize variety to get as broad a selection of phytochemicals as possible.
  • Aim for 25%-30% of your daily calories as healthy fats. Establish a rough balance of macronutrients.
  • Avoid wheat bread, or sharply limit it to infrequent small servings of organic, whole-kernel wheat, even if you do not suffer from celiac disease or are not one of the 6% or so who are overtly gluten sensitive. Whole kernel rye is a better choice, if you are not gluten-sensitive because it contains compounds that help turn off genes that cause diabetes. Even then, keep intake low!

Your should divide your plate into three major segments:

  1. ¼ lean meats, poultry, or cold-water fish.
  2. ¼ low-GL “starchy” veggies, beans (especially garbanzo), wild rice, or whole kernel rye.
  3. ½ leafy greens and/or lightly steamed cruciferous veggies.

You may also wish to investigate the benefits of curcumin (found in turmeric but available as a supplement separately), 1,500-2,000 mg per day in divided doses, for improving diabetes management long-term. Several studies point to its efficacy.

Be prepared to monitor your blood glucose, but over time the benefits of adhering closely to this dietary plan will be obvious. You will learn better dietary habits and improve your health markedly.