When it comes to diabetes and meal planning, there is no one-size-fits-all. In fact, the American Diabetes Association’s (ADA) nutrition recommendations identify several meal patterns or diets that have shown good results in people with diabetes.
Many of these meal patterns such as the Mediterranean, vegetarian, vegan, and DASH dietary plan, can be found in the US News and World Report list of best diets for people with diabetes.
The Mediterranean Diet is a plant-based eating pattern that features fruit, vegetables, fish, beans, nuts, and whole grains, as well as other ingredients such as olive oil and wine that have been shown to promote good health. The principles of the Mediterranean diet are easy to follow.
However, there are no guidelines regarding calories or recommendations for carbohydrate levels. So, you’ll have to figure that out on your own or enlist the help of a registered dietitian. The diet is filled with nutrient-dense foods like nuts and legumes, which can help you manage hunger and blood sugar levels.
US News and World Report review experts say a Mediterranean diet is an excellent option for preventing or controlling diabetes. There’s evidence that people with diabetes following a Mediterranean diet may improve their hemoglobin A1C (HbA1C) levels. The HbA1C is a measure of blood sugar over time.
The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet has been shown to help control high blood pressure, which is prevalent in people with diabetes. DASH emphasizes potassium, calcium, fiber, and protein-rich foods such as fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean protein and low-fat dairy while limiting foods that are high in saturated fat, such as fatty meats, full-fat dairy foods and tropical oils, and sugar-sweetened beverages and sweets. The diet is an exchange-based meal plan with various calorie levels to facilitate weight loss.
DASH is also nutritionally sound as it mirrors the recommendations found in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
The Flexitarian Diet is a vegetarian diet with the flexibility to occasionally include meat and poultry. Research suggests that people who eat more plants tend to consume fewer calories and more nutrients such as fiber and a wide variety of disease-fighting phytonutrients that are only available in plants. Because the diet is balanced and flexible, it can be easily followed by anyone. But of course, portions matter as much as food choice – particularly when it comes to carbohydrates and managing blood sugar.
The Flexitarian diet is a good choice to prevent and manage diabetes.
Mayo Clinic Diet
The Mayo Clinic Diet has two phases. The first “lose it” phase helps you change habits and the second “live it!” phase focuses on