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The Passionate Diabetic Diet Wars

There is no "one size fits all" diet plan for type 2 diabetes

Diabetes has always fascinated me. My mom suffered from this disease and died from its complications, and now my husband is trapped in its madness. So when people ask what diet is best, the answer isn’t easy and isn’t the same for everyone.

Type 2 diabetes is unbelievably common, yet there is no “cure.” They say an offense is the best defense, but even so, over 100 million Americans suffer from type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetics. Every year that number increases instead of going down.

The onset is slow but steady, and luckily most people get a warning that you’re heading directly into its destructive path. But often people don’t take the signs seriously and ‘suddenly’ find themselves crossing the threshold and welcomed into the diabetic club.

As a child and spouse of a person with diabetes, I was bewildered to learn the limited education provided by our health care system on what foods to eat and how often to eat them. In fact, my husband was given a paper plate with lines drawn on it to indicate how many vegetables, carbs, and protein to eat. That was it – oh – and 

“Good Luck!” as he walked out the door.

Most people who are recently diagnosed are left on their own to search the internet to find information -right or wrong- when food can literally save their life.

When I started to do some digging into the various diet options available,  I found it fascinating the diet wars that occur within this community.  Maybe its the society we live in today where tolerance and differences of opinions are snubbed. I’m not sure the reason why but the bias is real.

If your lifestyle or diet differs from another, you run the risk of being kicked out of a facebook group, or private messaged by people you don’t know with amazingly rude remarks. This happened to me numerous times by simply asking what I thought were valid questions – to others who traveled this road earlier.

The interesting fact is that many food plans work with people who have type 2. While some diets are stringent, rigorous and limiting, others are a little more relaxed and flexible.

Do you crush on fruits and vegetables? Good news! There’s a plan for you.

How about high protein? You’ll stabilize blood sugar eating this way too.

Is your passion olive oil infused foods? Lucky you, because you’ll savor the Mediterranean diet.

There are many options available for all your eating pleasure!

The key is to find the plan that fits your lifestyle, eating desire and budget.

There are several things all plans have in common which include eliminating sugar, processed foods, bad carbs and increasing your daily fiber.

The Diet Plans People Are So Passionate About

  • The Diabetes Diet recommended by the Mayo Clinic is rich in nutrients and low in fat and calories. The diabetes diet suggests eating three meals a day at regular set times. Your food will include healthy carbs such as fruits, vegetables, legumes and low-fat dairy products. High fiber foods, heart-healthy fish and good fats such as avocados, almonds walnuts, and olives are all included in the meal plan.
  • Mediterranean Diet focuses mostly on plant-based food that is seasonally fresh, and locally grown. Olive oil is the choice of fat, and it also includes a small amount of dairy and wonderfully light cheese. The protein sources include lean meat and fish. Research has shown that eating a Mediterranean diet improves glycemic control and cardiovascular risk in people with diabetes. Bonus! A glass of wine is a fine addition to any meal.
  • Vegetarian concentrates on plant food, like vegetables, fruit, whole grains, seeds, nuts, beans and meat substitutes. Imagine lowering your blood glucose and blood pressure, while losing weight. Sounds wonderful.  
    • Lacto-vegetarian adds dairy to their diet in the form of milk, cheese, and yogurt
    • Lacto-Ovo vegetarian: adds eggs to the Lacto-vegetarian diet.
    • Pescatarian will eat fish in addition to following any of the other options mentioned above. 
  • Vegan Diet includes plant-based foods, whole grains, nuts, seeds and beans and you will avoid all meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy. Most people who follow a low-fat vegan diet have great success in lowering blood glucose, reducing heart disease and lowering blood pressure. One thing to be aware of when pursuing vegan or vegetarian is to be mindful of the carbs eaten because it’s easy to fall into the habit of eating bread or crackers which your body will process as sugar.
  •  Ketogenic Diet goal is to use body fat for energy instead of carbs or glucose. The diet does not advocate loading up on saturated fats, only heart-healthy fats. The food includes nuts and seeds, eggs, fish, avocado, olives and olive oil and salmon. Managing carbs for people with type 2 is essential, and some people experience reduced blood sugar on this diet although it is restrictive and hard to follow for a long time.
  • Paleo Diet supports a low-moderate-carb plan that is nutrient and fiber-rich. Paleo also emphasizes food that helps with inflammation and healing the gut which helps to stabilize insulin and includes probiotic foods, bone broth, protein and healthy fats.

What’s the takeaway? 

  • Choose a plan that you are likely to follow long-term that fits your personal needs and lifelong goals.
  • Think about your likes and dislikes and know ahead of time how a change in your eating habits may | will affect your family and friends.
  • Your budget also plays a significant role in choosing the right healthy eating plan that will meet your needs.

Celebrate everyone who makes a positive change in their habits, mindset, and lives instead of taking on the diet wars that has infiltrated this community. 

Bottom line? There is no “one size fits all” for people with diabetes and, no plan is better than another. The best method is the plan that works best for you!

Health is the celebration and is what we all want to accomplish.

Let’s stop the bullying and honor the awareness that there are many roads to take to arrive at the same destination. What works for one may not work for another.

 Happy eating!

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