If you have diabetes, you might be tired of discussing your diet. After all, changing the way you eat is one of the most common tips for controlling your condition, but that doesn’t make it easy to do. It also doesn’t help you navigate the countless articles, posts, studies, and trends that all claim to know the best diet for diabetes.
The truth is, there isn’t one diabetes-friendly diet that always tops the rest. Dietary changes don’t affect everyone the same way, and what works well for one patient may not work at all for another. The key to choosing the best diet plan for your diabetes is determining which one helps you control your blood sugar, maintain a healthy weight, and feel your best. Of course, you should also enjoy the foods that are on your new menu, too!
To help you get started (and to save you a time-consuming search), we’ve compiled a list of the top four diet plans for people with diabetes. Each diet on this list is healthy, nutritious, and appropriate for diabetics.
Note: Always consult your doctor before starting a new diet or eating plan.
The Mediterranean diet is more of a lifestyle than a rigid diet plan, which is part of its success. Hailed as one of the healthiest ways of eating year after year, it emphasizes lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, and seafood while limiting red meat, processed foods, sweets, and saturated fats.
Studies have shown that this type of eating can promote weight loss, improve glucose management, and help prevent diabetes complications like heart disease and stroke. And because the Mediterranean diet has fewer rules and restrictions than other diet plans, it’s one of the easiest to follow.
The DASH Diet (or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) is designed to lower blood pressure – a key goal for diabetics – but it’s also been shown to improve insulin resistance and combat obesity. The plan is low in salt and sweets and rich in healthy foods that are high in potassium, calcium, magnesium, and fiber. Unlike other diets that are highly restrictive, the DASH diet emphasizes the many foods you can eat – fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, lean meats, beans, and nuts.
The ZONE Diet
The Zone Diet aims to reduce inflammation and encourage healthy insulin levels by eating meals at the right time, and in specific proportions: 30% protein, 40% carbohydrates, and 30% fat. As part of the diet, meals should be eaten five times per day and consist of lean meats, non-starchy fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats. While no foods are strictly off-limits, followers are encouraged to avoid saturated fats, sodium, processed foods, and grains.
The keto diet is a low-carb, high-fat eating plan that’s designed to force your body into ketosis, a state where your body burns fat (instead of sugar) for energy. The diet emphasizes a heavy restriction on carbohydrates – less than 50 grams per day – and focuses on foods that are high in unsaturated fats, such as eggs, avocado, nuts, and fish.
Studies have shown that a keto diet can help patients with type 2 diabetes control their blood sugar and maintain a healthy weight (you can read more about that here). But the plan’s extreme carb restriction and rigid rules make it difficult to follow for an extended period.