Best Diet Plan For Diabetes Type 2

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Best diet plan for diabetes type 2 is designed to help people with type 2 diabetes to better manage blood sugar levels. While these diets don’t cure or prevent the condition, sticking to a healthy diet can help you avoid complications and manage your diabetes more effectively.

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What Is a Type 2 Diabetes Friendly Diet?

If you were recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes or were diagnosed a while ago but are now ready to make diet changes, the prospect of giving up the foods you love may seem daunting. But you may be relieved to discover that a good diet for type 2 diabetes isn’t as tricky as you fear — and that you can still find joy in food while managing this disease. A healthy diet is a pillar of a successful diabetes management plan. Other pillars include taming stress, exercising regularly, and taking any medications as prescribed.

Best Diet Plan For Diabetes Type 2

If you live with type 2 diabetes, eating a balanced diet can help you manage your blood sugar levels and weight.

In turn, if your meal plan helps you achieve a healthier weight for your body and keep your blood sugar levels in your target range, it may reduce your risk for complications such as nerve damage, heart disease, and stroke, according to a 2017 research review.

Read on to learn more about how different diets and eating patterns can affect your health and impact your management of type 2 diabetes.

Foods to eat with type 2 diabetes

You can follow many different eating patterns and diets to meet your health needs.

With type 2 diabetes, be sure to pick a diet rich in nutrient-dense foods, which can help provide the fiber, vitamins, and minerals that your body needs.

You should also be sure to enjoy a variety of heart-healthy fats, including monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. These can help reduce your cholesterol levels to support heart health, according to a 2017 research review.

Similarly, eating plenty of foods high in fiber can enhance blood sugar management and help keep you feeling fuller for longer to help prevent eating when you’re not hungry.

Your diet should also be sustainable and easy to follow. Diet plans that are overly restrictive or don’t fit your lifestyle can be much harder to stick with in the long run.

Here are some examples of nutritious foods that your diet should include:

  • fruits (apples, oranges, berries, melons, pears, peaches)
  • vegetables (like broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, cucumbers, zucchini)
  • whole grains (quinoa, oats, brown rice, farro)
  • legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas)
  • nuts (almonds, walnuts, pistachios, macadamia nuts, cashews)
  • seeds (chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds)
  • protein-rich foods (skinless poultry, seafood, lean cuts of red meat, tofu, tempeh)
  • heart-healthy fats (olive oil, avocados, canola oil, sesame oil)
  • beverages (water, black coffee, unsweetened tea, vegetable juice)
Nadine Greeff/Stocksy United
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How a Healthy Diet Can Help You Manage Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is characterized by a condition called insulin resistance, in which the body can’t effectively use the hormone insulin to ferry blood sugar, or glucose, to cells and muscles for energy. This causes glucose to accumulate in your blood at higher than normal levels, which can put your health in danger.

Eating a healthy diet is important for everyone, regardless of diabetes status. But for people with this disease, nourishing foods eaten in the right portions provide two key benefits:

Reduced blood sugar Lowering blood sugar that is high can help reduce diabetes symptoms and lower the risk for health complications.

A healthier weight

 Weight loss is associated with a better A1C result, a two- to three-month average of blood sugar levels.

What Is a Good Diet for Type 2 Diabetes?

A smart diabetes diet looks a lot like the healthy eating plan doctors recommend for everyone: It includes whole, minimally processed foods, with fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, complex carbohydrates in moderation, lean protein, and healthy fats, and limits added sugars and refined grains.

“There is no ‘diabetic diet,’” says Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDCES, the author of 2 Day Diabetes Diet and Belly Fat Diet for Dummies, and based in Vernon, New Jersey. “The guidelines are basically the same for healthy eating for everyone, with or without diabetes,” she says.

According to the American Diabetes Association’s Nutrition Consensus Report in 2019, there are several healthful eating patterns you can follow to manage diabetes, including Mediterranean, low-carb, DASH, paleo, and vegetarian.

Top Diabetes-Friendly Foods to Eat

While no two diabetes diets will look the same, certain foods are considered staples for people with this disease because they support a healthy weight and blood sugar level. They include:

  • Non-starchy vegetables, such as broccoli and high-fiber fruit like apples
  • Lean sources of protein, such as boneless, skinless chicken, turkey, and fatty fish, like salmon
  • Healthy fats, such as nuts, nut butter, and avocado (in moderation)
  • Whole grains, like quinoa and barley
  • Nonfat or low fat dairy, like milk and plain yogurt

Food For Diabetes Type 2 To Avoid

Your food choices matter a lot when you’ve got diabetes. Some are better than others.

Nothing is completely off-limits. Even items that you might think of as “the worst” could be occasional treats — in tiny amounts. But they won’t help you nutrition-wise, and it’s easiest to manage your diabetes if you mainly stick to the “best” options.

Starches

Your body needs carbs. But you want to choose wisely. Use this list as a guide.

Best Choices

  • Whole grains, such as brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa, millet, or amaranth
  • Baked sweet potato
  • Items made with whole grains and no (or very little) added sugar

Worst Choices

  • Processed grains, such as white rice or white flour
  • Cereals with little whole grains and lots of sugar
  • White bread
  • French fries
  • Fried white-flour tortillas

Vegetables

Load up! You’ll get fiber and very little fat or salt (unless you add them).  Remember, potatoes and corn count as carbs.

Best Choices

  • Fresh veggies, eaten raw or lightly steamed, roasted, or grilled
  • Plain frozen vegetables, lightly steamed
  • Greens such as kale, spinach, and arugula. Iceberg lettuce is not as great because it’s low in nutrients.
  • Low sodium or unsalted canned vegetables

Go for a variety of colors: dark greens, red or orange (think of carrots or red peppers), whites (onions) and even purple (eggplants). The 2015 U.S. guidelines recommend 2.5 cups of veggies per day.

Worst Choices

  • Canned vegetables with lots of added sodium
  • Veggies cooked with lots of added butter, cheese, or sauce
  • Pickles, if you need to limit sodium. Otherwise, pickles are OK.
  • Sauerkraut, for the same reason as pickles. Limit them if you have high blood pressure.

Fruits

They give you carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Most are naturally low in fat and sodium. But they tend to have more carbs than vegetables do.

Best Choices

  • Fresh fruit
  • Plain frozen fruit or fruit canned without added sugar
  • Sugar-free or low-sugar jam or preserves
  • No-sugar-added applesauce

Worst Choices

  • Canned fruit with heavy sugar syrup
  • Chewy fruit rolls
  • Regular jam, jelly, and preserves (unless you have a very small portion)
  • Sweetened applesauce
  • Fruit punch, fruit drinks, fruit juice drinks

Protein

You have lots of choices, including beef, chicken, fish, pork, turkey, seafood, beans, cheese, eggs, nuts, and tofu.

Best Choices

The American Diabetes Association lists these as the top options:

  • Plant-based proteins such as beans, nuts, seeds, or tofu
  • Fish and seafood
  • Chicken and other poultry (Choose the breast meat if possible.)
  • Eggs and low-fat dairy

If you eat meat, keep it low in fat. Trim the skin off of poultry.

Try to include some plant-based protein from beans, nuts, or tofu, even if you’re not a vegetarian or vegan. You’ll get nutrients and fiber that aren’t in animal products.

Worst Choices

  • Fried meats
  • Higher-fat cuts of meat, such as ribs
  • Pork bacon
  • Regular cheeses
  • Poultry with skin
  • Deep-fried fish
  • Deep-fried tofu
  • Beans prepared with lard

Dairy

Keep it low in fat. If you want to splurge, keep your portion small.

Best Choices

  • 1% or skim milk
  • Low-fat yogurt
  • Low-fat cottage cheese
  • Low-fat or nonfat sour cream

Worst Choices

  • Whole milk
  • Regular yogurt
  • Regular cottage cheese
  • Regular sour cream
  • Regular ice cream
  • Regular half-and-half

Fats, Oils, and Sweets

They’re tough to resist. But it’s easy to get too much and gain weight, which makes it harder to manage your diabetes.

Best Choices

  • Natural sources of vegetable fats, such as nuts, seeds, or avocados (high in calories, so keep portions small)
  • Foods that give you omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna, or mackerel
  • Plant-based oils, such as canola, grapeseed, or olive oils

Worst Choices

  • Anything with trans fat in it. It’s bad for your heart. Check the ingredient list for anything that’s “partially hydrogenated,” even if the label says it has 0 grams of trans fat.
  • Big portions of saturated fats, which mainly come from animal products but also are in coconut oil and palm oil. Ask your doctor what your limit should be, especially if you have heart disease as well as diabetes.

Drinks

When you down a favorite drink, you may get more calories, sugar, salt, or fat than you bargained for. Read the labels so you know what’s in a serving.

Best Choices

  • Unflavored water or flavored sparkling water
  • Unsweetened tea with or without a slice of lemon
  • Light beer, small amounts of wine, or non-fruity mixed drinks
  • Coffee, black or with added low-fat milk and sugar substitute

Worst Choices

  • Regular sodas
  • Regular beer, fruity mixed drinks, dessert wines
  • Sweetened tea
  • Coffee with sugar and cream
  • Flavored coffees and chocolate drinks
  • Energy drinks
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Healthy Foods For People With Diabetes

An important way to manage prediabetes and type 2 diabetes is through a healthy, balanced diet. Being mindful of carbohydrate intake, eating smaller meals regularly, and choosing healthy, nutrient-dense options can all help a person manage the risks health experts associate with diabetes.

Vegetables

Vegetables form the basis of a healthy diet. They are excellent sources of vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

Fiber and complex carbohydrates, present in many vegetables, can help a person feel satiated. This in turn can deter overeating, which may lead to undesirable weight gain and problems with blood sugar.

Some vegetables to add to the shopping list include:

  • broccoli
  • carrots
  • greens
  • peppers
  • tomatoes
  • potatoes
  • corn
  • green peas

Beans and legumes

Beans, lentils, and other pulses are a great source of dietary fiber and protein.

The high fiber content of foods in the pulse family means that the digestive tract absorbs fewer carbohydrates than it does from low fiber, high carbohydrate foods.

This makes these foods an excellent carbohydrate choice for individuals with diabetes. People can also use them in place of meat or cheese.

Below are some examples of what beans to pick up in a canned or dry form:

  • black beans
  • lentils
  • white beans
  • garbanzo beans
  • kidney beans
  • pinto beans

Also, pressure- or slow-cooking beans may help improve their digestibility.

Fruit

Fruit can have a high sugar content, but the sugar in whole fruit does not count toward free sugars. Therefore, people with diabetes should not avoid fruit.

The following fruits make a solid addition to the diet of anyone who has type 2 diabetes, thanks to their low glycemic index (GI) and glycemic load:

  • apples
  • avocado
  • blackberries
  • cherries
  • grapefruit
  • peaches
  • pears
  • plums
  • strawberries

Whole grains

Whole grains can be an effective way for people with diabetes to manage their blood glucose levels, since they often have a lower GI.

People should avoid bleached and refined carbohydrates, such as white bread and pasta, and instead choose some of the following when consuming grains:

  • whole wheat or legume pasta
  • whole-grain bread with at least 3 grams of fiber per slice
  • quinoa
  • wild rice
  • 100% whole-grain or whole wheat flour
  • cornmeal
  • oatmeal
  • millet
  • amaranth
  • barley

Whole grains will also leave a person feeling full for longer, and they can have more flavor than processed carbohydrates.

Nadine Greeff/Stocksy United
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SAMPLE DIET

Day 1

Breakfast (255 calories)

  • 1 serving Strawberry-Pineapple Smoothie

A.M. Snack (59 calories)

  • 1 medium peach

Lunch (325 calories)

  • 1 serving Veggie & Hummus Sandwich

P.M. Snack (105 calories)

  • 8 walnut halves

Dinner (458 calories)

  • 1 serving Greek Grilled Salmon Kebabs with Tzatziki & Green Beans
  • 1 serving Persian Cucumber & Tomato Salad with Preserved Lemon

Daily Totals: 1,201 calories, 59 g protein, 129 g carbohydrates, 30 g fiber, 56 g fat, 8 g saturated fat, 1,345 mg sodium

To make it 1,500 calories: Add ¼ cup dry roasted unsalted almonds to A.M. snack and 1 pear to lunch.

To make it 2,000 calories: Add 1 slice whole-wheat toast with 1½ Tbsp. almond butter to breakfast, ¼ cup unsalted dry-roasted almonds to A.M. snack and 1 banana to lunch, increase walnut halves to ¼ cup at P.M. snack and add a 2-oz. slice of whole-wheat baguette to dinner.

Day 2

Breakfast (274 calories)

  • 1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup blackberries
  • ¼ cup Maple Granola

A.M. Snack (64 calories)

  • 1 cup raspberries

Lunch (305 calories)

  • 1 serving Meal-Prep Turkey Cobb Salad
  • 1 plum

P.M. Snack (159 calories)

  • 2/3 cup blueberries
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted dry-roasted almonds

Dinner (403 calories)

  • 1 serving Vegetarian Lo Mein with Shiitakes, Carrots & Bean Sprouts
  • 2 cups mixed greens
  • 1 Tbsp. Citrus Vinaigrette

Daily Totals: 1,205 calories, 59 g protein, 120 g carbohydrates, 29 g fiber, 58 g fat, 9 g saturated fat, 1,266 mg sodium

To make it 1,500 calories: Increase Maple Granola to 1/3 cup at breakfast, add ½ an avocado to lunch and increase almonds to ¼ cup in the P.M. snack.

To make it 2,000 calories: Increase Maple Granola to 1/3 cup and add 1 slice whole-wheat toast with 1½ Tbsp. almond butter to breakfast, add ¼ cup unsalted dry-roasted almonds to A.M. snack, add 1 banana and ½ an avocado to lunch, and increase almonds to ¼ cup at P.M. snack.

Meal-Prep Tip: Prepare 1 serving of Date & Pine Nut Overnight Oatmeal to have for breakfast tomorrow.

Day 3

Breakfast (281 calories)

  • 1 serving Date & Pine Nut Overnight Oatmeal

A.M. Snack (101 calories)

  • 1 medium pear

Lunch (305 calories)

  • 1 serving Meal-Prep Turkey Cobb Salad
  • 1 plum

P.M. Snack (31 calories)

  • ½ cup blackberries

Dinner (464 calories)

  • 1 serving Sheet-Pan Chicken Fajita Bowls
  • 1 serving Jason Mraz’s Guacamole

Daily Totals: 1,183 calories, 68 g protein, 127 g carbohydrates, 32 g fiber, 52 g fat, 9 g saturated fat, 1,307 mg sodium

To make it 1,500 calories: Add ½ an avocado to lunch and 10 walnut halves to P.M. snack.

To make it 2,000 calories: Add 1 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt to breakfast, add ¼ cup unsalted dry-roasted almonds to A.M. snack, add 1 banana and ½ an avocado to lunch, add 6 walnut halves to P.M. snack, and add 1 oz. corn tortilla chips to dinner.

Day 4

Breakfast (274 calories)

  • 1 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup blackberries
  • ¼ cup Maple Granola

A.M. Snack (59 calories)

  • 1 peach

Lunch (305 calories)

  • 1 serving Meal-Prep Turkey Cobb Salad
  • 1 plum

P.M. Snack (64 calories)

  • 1 cup raspberries

Dinner (500 calories)

  • 1 serving Salsa-Black Bean Burgers
  • 1 serving Grilled Sweet Potato Wedges

Daily Totals: 1,201 calories, 57 g protein, 135 g carbohydrates, 32 g fiber, 52 g fat, 9 g saturated fat, 1,389 mg sodium

To make it 1,500 calories: Increase Maple Granola to 1/3 cup at breakfast, add 8 walnut halves to A.M. snack and add ½ an avocado to lunch.

To make it 2,000 calories: Add 1 slice whole-wheat toast and 1½ Tbsp. almond butter to breakfast, add ¼ cup unsalted dry-roasted almonds to A.M. snack, add 1 banana and ½ an avocado to lunch, and add 1 5-oz. container nonfat plain Greek yogurt to P.M. snack.

Meal-Prep Tip: Prepare 1 serving of Date & Pine Nut Overnight Oatmeal to have for breakfast tomorrow.

Day 5

Breakfast (281 calories)

  • 1 serving Date & Pine Nut Overnight Oatmeal

A.M. Snack (41 calories)

  • 2/3 cup blackberries

Lunch (305 calories)

  • 1 serving Meal-Prep Turkey Cobb Salad
  • 1 plum

P.M. Snack (126 calories)

  • 2/3 cup raspberries
  • 1 5-oz. container nonfat plain Greek yogurt

Dinner (459 calories)

  • 1 serving Turkish Seared Tuna with Bulgur & Chickpea Salad

Daily Totals: 1,213 calories, 74 g protein, 130 g carbohydrates, 28 g fiber, 48 g fat, 9 g saturated fat, 1,257 mg sodium

To make it 1,500 calories: Add ½ an avocado to lunch and add ¼ cup Maple Granola to P.M. snack.

To make it 2,000 calories: Add 1 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt to breakfast, ¼ cup unsalted dry-roasted almonds to A.M. snack, ½ an avocado and 1 banana to lunch, and 1 serving Balsamic & Parmesan Roasted Broccoli to dinner.

Day 6

Breakfast (274 calories)

  • 1 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup blackberries
  • ¼ cup Maple Granola

A.M. Snack (83 calories)

  • 1 plum
  • 4 walnut halves

Lunch (304 calories)

  • 1 serving Green Goddess Salad with Chickpeas

P.M. Snack (101 calories)

  • 1 medium pear

Dinner (439 calories)

  • 1 serving BBQ Chicken Tacos with Red Cabbage Slaw
  • 2 cups mixed greens
  • 1 Tbsp. Citrus Vinaigrette

Daily Totals: 1,201 calories, 79 g protein, 143 g carbohydrates, 33 g fiber, 39 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 1,345 mg sodium

To make it 1,500 calories: Increase Maple Granola to 1/3 cup at breakfast, increase to 10 walnut halves at A.M. snack, and add ¼ cup unsalted dry-roasted almonds to P.M. snack.

To make it 2,000 calories: Increase Maple Granola to 1/3 cup at breakfast and add 1 slice whole-wheat toast with 1½ Tbsp. almond butter, increase to 12 walnut halves at A.M. snack, add 1 serving Everything Bagel Avocado Toast to lunch, add ¼ cup unsalted dry-roasted almonds to P.M. snack, and add ½ an avocado at dinner.

Day 7

Breakfast (255 calories)

  • 1 serving Strawberry-Pineapple Smoothie

A.M. Snack (30 calories)

  • 1 plum

Lunch (304 calories)

  • 1 serving Green Goddess Salad with Chickpeas

P.M. Snack (206 calories)

  • ¼ cup unsalted dry-roasted almonds

Dinner (405 calories)

  • 1 serving Sweet & Sour Chicken
  • 2 cups mixed greens
  • 1 Tbsp. Citrus Vinaigrette

Daily Totals: 1,201 calories, 66 g protein, 136 g carbohydrates, 33 g fiber, 51 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 1,361 mg sodium

To make it 1,500 calories: Add 1 banana to breakfast and 15 walnut halves to A.M. snack.

To make it 2,000 calories: Add 1 slice whole-wheat toast with 1½ Tbsp. almond butter to breakfast, add ¼ cup unsalted dry-roasted almonds to A.M. snack, add 1 serving Everything Bagel Avocado Toast to lunch, and add 2 servings Vinegary Coleslaw to dinner.

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