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If you have diabetes, you may have a lot of concerns to apply the diabetic diet plan. Watching what you eat when your health is at stake is the main concern.
A healthy diabetic diet plan goes way beyond cutting carbs and slashing sugar consumption. In fact, filling your plate with the right foods and switching up your daily routine can also have a huge impact on managing your blood sugar levels.
What are these best diets for diabetics? There are several different eating patterns that you may choose to follow such as the Mediterranean diet or the DASH diet for a best diabetes diet plan.
Whatever diet you decide to follow, the idea is to choose foods that help you manage your:
- Blood sugar
- Blood pressure level
- The risk for complications like heart disease or kidney disease
Best Diet for Managing Diabetes
Effective management of diabetes cannot be achieved without an appropriate diet. However, making changes in what you eat and drink can seem challenging at first. You may find it easier to start with small changes and get help from the doctors you can trust.
There is a wealth of diets that have proved to be either popular with or of interest for people with diabetes. It’s all about finding the right balance that works best for you. So here are the best diets for diabetics to help you manage your diabetes and enjoy a longer and healthier life.
Mediterranean Diet for Diabetics
A Mediterranean diet is known for its heart-healthy effects and can be a great choice for controlling blood sugar. The Mediterranean diet isn’t strictly defined. Instead of rules, there’s a food pyramid meant to guide healthy eating choices.
At the base of the Mediterranean diet pyramid are whole, unprocessed plant foods: vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, potatoes, whole grains, bread, and extra virgin olive oil. These whole foods make up the bulk of what you eat on the diet.
In addition to prioritizing plant foods, the Mediterranean diet suggests eating fish or seafood at least twice a week, as these are the best for heart and brain health. Dairy, lean poultry, and eggs are fine to eat but shouldn’t be what you eat the majority of the time.
Red meat, sweets, and processed foods make up the tip of the pyramid and are things you should eat least often.
Is Mediterranean Diet Good for Diabetics?
Research shows the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet is also beneficial for people with type 2 diabetes. It captures elements of both the TLC and the DASH diets and provides more tangible recommendations. Mediterranean diets rich in fruit, vegetables and fiber are known to be healthy for people with diabetes and can help people with diabetes to control their blood sugar levels. The Mediterranean diet also ranked first in best diets for diabetics and tied for first place in best heart-healthy diet.
The reason why the Mediterranean diet is good for diabetes is because it’s flexible. Managing diabetes requires a lifestyle change—shifting to more homemade meals, increasing activity, incorporating plenty of healthy Mediterranean foods that help manage blood sugars and limiting the foods that raise blood sugars quickly. If you have diabetes, your risk of heart disease increases, which is why the Mediterranean diet is such a great choice—it includes heart-healthy unsaturated fats while limiting saturated fats from red meat, sweets and high-fat dairy items. Plus, it incorporates plenty of high-fiber foods, like whole grains, legumes and fresh produce, which can help improve blood sugar control. Fiber is digested slowly, which slows down the rate at which sugar enters your bloodstream, helping to prevent blood sugar spikes.
The DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension Diet) was developed by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and it involves reducing the amount of sodium in your diet, which can treat and prevent high blood pressure. Keeping blood pressure low is an important aspect of diabetes management. The DASH diet also protects you from complications associated with diabetes, such as osteoporosis, stroke and heart disease.
The DASH diet plan is simple:
- Eat more fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy foods.
- Cut back on foods that are high in saturated fat, cholesterol, and trans fats.
- Eat more whole-grain foods, fish, poultry, and nuts.
- Limit sodium, sweets, sugary drinks, and red meats.
The Flexitarian diet has it all in the name: flexibility. It’s a predominantly vegetarian diet with a smattering of meats. Think of it as being semi-vegetarian.
The Flexitarian diet has no clear-cut rules or recommended numbers of calories and macronutrients. In fact, it’s more a lifestyle than a diet.
The guidelines for following a Flexitarian Diet are:
- Start every meal with vegetables and fruit.
- Next, choose legumes and grains.
- Incorporate meat and animal products in moderation.
- Limit heavily process products, greasy foods, and sweets.
- Focus on whole foods as the primary source of your nutrition.
Eating flexitarian may provide several health benefits such as:
- Fibre-rich diet and healthy fats that are good for heart health.
- Weight loss.
- Prevent and manage diabetes.
- Help prevent cancer.
The MIND Diet is a combination of the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet to create a dietary pattern that focuses on brain health. Because this diet is a combination of two popular diets, it has a similar effect on improving heart health and effective management of diabetes.
Integrating principles of the Mediterranean and DASH diets, the MIND diet was created with ten foods to focus on and five to limit.
The foods you are encouraged to eat while on the MIND diet include:
- Green, leafy vegetables
- All other vegetables
- Olive oil
- Whole grains
- Wine (no more than one glass per day)
Foods to avoid or limit include:
- Red Meat
- Fried food
The TLC Diet
The Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) diet was developed with more than diabetic in mind. It is a diet that is recommended to people with high cholesterol, heart or other cardiovascular disease and those that have been diagnosed with diabetes. It was created by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and endorsed by the American Heart Institute.
The main guidelines for following the TLC diet include:
- Eat only enough calories to maintain a healthy weight.
- 25-35% of your daily calories should come from fat.
- Less than 7% of your daily calories should come from saturated fat.
- Dietary cholesterol intake should be limited to less than 200 mg per day.
- Aim for 10-25 grams of soluble fibre daily.
- Consume at least 2 grams of plant sterols or stanols each day.
- Get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity every day.
Following the TLC diet for diabetics typically involves increasing your consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds to bump up your fiber intake. It also involves adding 30 minutes of physical activity per day to your routine. Limiting high-fat and cholesterol-rich foods like fatty cuts of meat, dairy products, egg yolks, and processed foods are also recommended, which helps maximize results.
The Bottom Line
A healthy diabetes diet plan for people with diabetes is important to control blood sugar levels, maintain a healthy weight and reducing the risk of developing chronic diseases such as heart disease. In addition, in choosing the right diet, choose the best diets for diabetics that works well for you.
If you are concerned about your blood sugar levels as well as your weight, speak to one of our qualified doctors in Premier Health and Wellness Center. They can prepare a treatment plan for diabetes and help you find the diet suited to your specific nutritional needs and weight loss goals. They will also help prevent complications from diets and pills that may interact with prescription medication.
Schedule your appointment today! Or visit us at 38 King Street, Hamilton, Bermuda.