Best Diabetic Diet Options
For our Best Diets of 2022 ranking, the Forbes Health editorial team created a Forbes Health Best Diets Panel of experts to analyze 19 diets in a variety of areas, including diabetic health.
The diets we identified as the Best Diets for People With Diabetes had the highest average scores across our panel of physicians and registered dietitians for diabetic health, which we defined as the diets ability to prevent type 2 diabetes or help diabetics manage their diabetes.
Be sure to consult your doctor before beginning a new diet or eating plan.
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It may come as no suprise that cutting calories very low leads to weight loss.
But the analysis suggested it was a liquid-based diet – with shakes and soups as opposed to food – that worked best for weight loss leading to remission.
The best formula was meal replacement liquids of 800 calories a day for 12 weeks, followed by a high carb low-fat diet combined with some shakes and soups.
The researchers said: Very low energy diets and formula meal replacement appear the most effective approaches, generally providing less energy than self-administered food-based diets.
No other diet was found to support weight loss for those with type 2 diabetes – even common low-carbohydrate or Mediterranean strategies.
People using these diets saw no more than 2kg of weight.
It suggested there was no point in cutting out entire food groups to lose weight, and rather reducing portion sizes generally was the way forward.
Dr Lucy Chambers, Head of Research Communications at Diabetes UK, said the study answers important questions.
It also supported findings from the charitys own research – that low calorie diets for 12 weeks have the best success rates.
The DiRECT study, funded by Diabetes UK, showed a low calorie diet can help a quarter of type 2 diabetes patients lose 15kg or more of weight, and put 86 per cent of those into remission.
The results of the trial mean the NHS is now trialling it across the UK.
Its important to remember that theres no one-size-fits-all diet for diabetes.
Your Weight Is Important
Losing weight will make it easier for your body to lower your blood sugar level, and can improve your blood pressure and cholesterol.
To know whether you’re overweight, work out your body mass index .
If you need to lose weight, it is recommended for most people to do it slowly over time. Aim for around 0.5 to 1kg a week.
The charity Diabetes UK has more information on healthy weight and weight loss.
There is evidence that eating a low-calorie diet on a short-term basis can help with symptoms of type 2 diabetes. And some people have found that their symptoms go into remission.
A low-calorie diet is not safe or suitable for everyone with type 2 diabetes, such as people who need to take insulin. So it is important to get medical advice before going on this type of diet.
Page last reviewed: 18 August 2020 Next review due: 18 August 2023
It Starts With Finding A Way To Eat Fewer Calories Than You Need
A calorie is a unit of energy, which is in the food and drink we consume. Your body uses energy for everything we do from breathing and sleeping to exercising. When you eat, youre replacing the energy youve used, which helps you to maintain a healthy weight.
As a general guide, government recommendations are that men need around 2,500kcal a day to maintain a healthy weight, and women need around 2,000kcal a day. But most people need different amounts of calories based on how their bodies work, how active they are and any weight management goals.
Weve put together some 7-day meal plans to help you lose weight. They’re all clinically approved, nutritionally balanced, calorie and carb counted, and can help if you want to lose weight:
Evidence shows that the best approach is the one that youre likely to stick to. So the key is to find a plan that you enjoy and fits in with the rest of your life. Everyones different and what works for some may not for others.
What Foods Should Be Avoided If You Have Type 1 Diabetes
People with type 1 diabetes should avoid many of the same unhealthy foods that everyone should limit. In short, this means restricting processed foods and food with a high glycemic load. This includes
- sodas ,
- processed/refined sugars ,
- trans fats , and
- high-fat animal products.
Restrict white foods i.e. pasta, bread, scones, cookies, flour, sugar, white potato, etc. This is an easy way to remove high glycemic load foods. It is important to remember that, unlike type 2 diabetes, food choices didn’t specifically contribute to developing type 1 diabetes but they do impact how someone manages diabetes. People with type 1 and 2 diabetes alike are at risk for the complications that stem from high blood sugar, such as cardiovascular disease and obesity. Because of this, attention to healthy eating is important and foods that increase the risk of cardiovascular disease should be avoided.
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Glycaemic Index And Diabetes
Some carbohydrate foods release glucose into the bloodstream more quickly than others. Foods that produce a slower rise in blood glucose levels are described as having a low glycaemic index and can be helpful in blood glucose management.
Healthy carbohydrate foods that have a low GI include some high-fibre breads and cereals , pasta, basmati or low GI rice, quinoa, barley, most fruit, legumes and low-fat dairy products.
Aim to include at least one ‘low GI’ food per meal. Taking care with portion sizes is still important when eating low GI foods, as large servings of these foods can result in high blood glucose levels and weight gain.
Some low GI foods may be high in saturated fat, added sugar and energy for example, ice cream and chocolate. Always check the list of ingredients and the energy content of packaged foods. Foods with a GI of 55 and below are low GI foods.
The GI values of foods are only an average, and people will often react very differently to foods. People with diabetes are advised to self-monitor their blood glucose levels, before and 2 hours after starting a meal, to determine the effect of various foods on their own blood glucose levels.
Know Your Blood Sugar And Bring Snacks
Hypoglycemia aka low blood sugar is the biggest risk of exercise for people who have diabetes, Roberts says. “It is important to monitor blood sugars before, during and after exercise,” she says.
Before exercising, you’ll want a Goldilocks-like level of blood sugar neither too low, nor too high. Mayo Clinic guidelines for pre-exercise blood sugar levels are:
- Below 100 mg/dL: This is too low for a workout. Either skip it, or eat something, wait and then check your blood sugar again.
- 100 to 250 mg/dL: This is the sweet spot. “A good general recommendation is to make sure blood sugar is over 100 mg/dL,” Dr. Kane says. Higher than that is even better, so long as you remain under 250 mg/dL.
- 250 mg/dL or above: This is high, and merits checking for ketones, Dr. Kane says. “If sugars are high, especially if there are ketones in the urine, then it’s best to cancel the exercise session and address the high blood sugar,” Dr. Kane says.
Get familiar with common signs of low blood sugar, Roberts recommends. They include:
“I strongly recommend that diabetes clients keep snacks on hand, and keep an eye on your blood sugar,” Honore says. Appropriate snacks to address low blood sugar include glucose tablets or a small juice box, Roberts says.
Prioritize hydration, too. Diabetes complications and medications can affect hydration levels, per the ADA. Being dehydrated affects blood sugar levels, according to the Mayo Clinic.
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How Do The Foods I Eat Affect My Blood Sugar Levels
The sugar in your blood comes from certain foods called carbohydrates, or “carbs.” Foods that are high in carbs include candy and sweets, sodas, breads, tortillas, and white rice. The more carbs you eat, the higher your blood sugar level will be.
Whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, making the right food choices is an important way to keep your blood sugar at a healthy level. When you control your blood sugar, you lower your chance of having serious health problems from diabetes, such as vision loss and heart problems.
And if you have prediabetes or are at risk for diabetes, eating foods that keep your blood sugar levels healthy may help prevent type 2 diabetes later on.
Get Support And Give Back
Now youre at your healthy weight, think about passing your tips and advice on to others. A lot of people find mentoring others and sharing experiences really fulfilling.
You can connect with other people with diabetes and share what youve learnt in our online forum weve made a board especially for people who are looking to lose weight.
And remember, you can speak to your healthcare team if you’re having trouble keeping to your healthy weight.
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Aspects Of Cholesterol Problems
In and of itself, cholesterol is not a bad thing: It’s present in every cell in the body and does a lot of goodsupporting the production of hormones, digestion, and converting sunlight into vitamin D. Approximately 75 percent of the cholesterol present in the blood is produced by the liver, but the rest is derived from the diet, which is why making dietary changes is an effective way to keep cholesterol levels healthy.
There are two types of cholesterol:
- Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol is regarded as “bad cholesterol.” It’s the soft, waxy stuff that can accumulate in the bloodstream and interfere with the flow of blood.
- High-density lipoprotein the so-called “good cholesterol”helps keep blood vessels clear by carrying LDL cholesterol to the liver for disposal.
|Cholesterol Level Guidelines for Adults 20 and Older|
Be Consistent With Your Carbs
Try to eat three meals per day at regular times and space your meals no more than six hours apart. Eating at regular times helps your body control blood sugar levels. It also helps to try to eat about the same amount of food at each meal, especially carbohydrates.
Consider learning about counting carbohydrates as the amount of carbohydrate eaten at one time is usually important in managing diabetes. Having too many carbohydrates at a meal may cause your blood sugar level to go too high, and not enough carbohydrate may cause your blood sugar to go too low, depending on the type of diabetes medication you take.
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Socialize More Drink Less
When you’re getting together with friends or family, have fun, but skip or limit the alcohol.
âBeer, wine, and most cocktail mixers contain sugar and will cause your blood glucose to rise, as well as your blood pressure and triglycerides,â Elkins says. âAlcohol also stimulates your appetite and can cause you to overeat.â
Moderation is key, Elkins says. âMen should limit themselves to two drinks per day, and women to one.â
One drink is a 12-ounce beer, 5 ounces of wine, or a 1-ounce shot of liquor.
Plan Ahead And Write It Down
“If I do miss a run because its raining, I dont beat myself up about it. And if I do eat a piece of cake I dont mind, because you cant be good all the time. But it will only be a day off.”
Karen shares her tips for sticking to a healthy lifestyle
One way to plan ahead is to think about the action you might take when faced with different situations or obstacles get in the way. This can be really helpful when things dont go according to plan. For example:
‘If Im late home from work and dont have time to cook dinner, Ill pick up a bag of salad and plain piece of cooked meat or some tofu from the supermarket for an easy healthy dinner’.
Think about writing your goals down and make a note of your progress each week. If youre having a bad day, think about what you might do differently the next day. Setting goals and reading back over what happened can help keep you motivated.
You could even show it to a family member or friend, to help them see all your hard work not everyone wants to share this though, and thats okay too.
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Weight Loss Options For Diabetes
For many people with diabetes, exercise and dietary changes arent enough to lose significant weight. Here are some other weight-loss approaches that work:
Medically managed weight loss. This approach involves a team of health care providers, including physicians, nutritionists and more, who create a weight-loss program uniquely suited to you. Support includes a reduced calorie diet that may feature meal-replacement products such as OPTIFAST®, an exercise plan, behavioral counseling and medication.
Weight loss medications. There are many types of weight loss medicationssome work by making you feel less hungry, others by making it harder for the body to absorb fat. Its important that you follow your doctors advice, as some diabetes and weight loss medications have serious side effects. Weight loss medications are typically prescribed and monitored through a medical weight loss program.
Bariatric surgery. Also known as weight loss surgery, this approach permanently alters the digestive tract to limit the amount of food you can eat at one time. It has proven to be an effective option, particularly for people with diabetes. Like any significant surgery, there are risks that you should weigh. There are also some lifestyle changes that go along with this type of surgery. Consult your doctor to see if bariatric surgery is right for you.
The Ultimate Weight Loss Diet Plan For Diabetics
Diabetes and its complications are more common than ever before.
For this reason, its fundamental to follow a well-planned diabetic diet if you have diabetes .
More than 85% of people with type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese, and rates of the disease have increased in parallel with the increased prevalence of obesity .
So for diabetics, weight loss will help improve your blood sugar control and reduce your overall health risks.
Here, well look at the benefits of specific diabetic diets for weight loss, and offer some practical suggestions and meal plans for those looking to lose weight.
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Sugar Substitutes And Diabetes
The current belief is that people who need to follow a diabetes diet should avoid added sweeteners of all kinds, including sugar substitutes and artificial sweeteners. Researchers have found that people who consume foods with any form of sweetener typically crave more of these foods, and end up gaining weight.
Your best bet is to begin using fruit to get your sweet fix. By adding fruit to foods, you totally avoid the added sugars and sugar alcohols and get the added benefit of dietary fiber, which is better for blood glucose control.
Of all the alternative sweeteners, stevia is the one I recommend most often, says Ms. Zanini. Its a great natural and zero-calorie option for blood sugar control when added to beverages, hot cereals, and other foods when you are looking for a little sweetness.
Youll have to experiment with stevia, she adds, because it works better with some foods than with others.
One of the best changes anyone with diabetes can make is to switch from white food productswhite bread, white potatoes in any form, and white ricethat can also cause notable spikes in blood sugar to similar products made from whole grains, like multigrain sourdough bread, shredded wheat or sweet potatoes, and roasted red potatoes that still have the skin on.
Diabetes Diet Plan For Long
It may ease your mind to know you will be able to incorporate your favorite foods into a healthy diet while being mindful of your diabetes diet goals . Check out our type 2 diabetes diet sheet below for an idea of the variety of delicious and balanced meals that can fit into a diabetic meal plan.
For many people, at least initially, this may seem harder than it should be and thats understandable after all, it can seem very, very challenging to change current eating habits and find the right food rhythm to fit your lifestyle.
You don’t have to go it alone: Seek advice from a registered dietitian or certified diabetes educator who has the right training to help you come up with an individualized meal plan that will help you meet your self-management goals, get the nutrition you need, and show you how you can incorporate some of your favorite foods into your diet so that you continue to enjoy eating.
Hopefully, your doctor has someone on the team, but if not, call your health insurer to ask for the names of a few in-network RD/CDEs.
There are also virtual coaching programs that appear to be effective this means you can get individualized dietary guidance at home or at work. Most health insurance companies will cover the cost of diabetic diet counseling so ask your doctor for a prescription, so cost doesnt hold you back.
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