Peer Reviewed by Dr Ryan Herring, MD
So whether you’ve just been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, pre-diabetes, or have been a type 2 diabetic for years… there is hope to improve, or in many cases completely reverse, your diabetes. Now that’s exciting! But before you read on, if you are on ANY medications, especially insulin, you need to work very closely with your doctor, because your blood sugars and insulin sensitivity can improve very rapidly (within a few days!) and you will likely need your medications reduced or even stopped! You will want to make sure you are checking your blood sugars first thing in the morning, and at least 1-2 additional times during the day, and before bed during this transition. Make sure you know what to do if your sugars go too low! This is a good sign that the nutrition is working, BUT without a doctor watching over you, can be very dangerous, so make sure you are watching yourself closely and so is your doctor!
Ok so let’s include a quick summary of why this approach works:
· We apply the principle of the ‘lock and key’ approach to diabetes popularized by Dr. Neal Barnard from the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), whereby insulin resistance and diabetes occurs by excess fat (especially saturated fats) clogging up the insulin receptor (lock), like chewing gum in a lock, so that insulin (the key), cannot work to open the cell, to let in the glucose (sugar) from the blood stream, which leads to elevated blood sugar (what we don’t want!).
· By dramatically reducing the saturated fats in the diet, we allow the insulin receptor lock to clean out, so that the insulin key can open the door to the cell, to allow the glucose to move from the blood stream into the cell (what we want!). This leads to not only better blood sugars, but also more energy for you, as the cells received the energy they need!
· Saturated fats are also directly damaging to the insulin receptors, and the insulin factory (pancreas) so reducing dietary intake helps two-fold, improving your ability to both produce and use insulin.
· This approach also helps by reducing fatty liver, and helps the liver work better by making it more sensitive to insulin and blood sugar levels, helping to regulate them, especially overnight. When the liver is not working well in diabetes it pumps out excessive glycogen (stored sugars) which turns into glucose in the blood stream, which is why some people wake up with higher blood sugars than they went to sleep with, despite not eating anything overnight!
· This nutrition plan also helps reduce body weight, which can be beneficial to those that cannot walk due to pain from excessive weight. This means you may be able to start walking after meals, which in turn further helps manage blood sugar levels, as during exercise, the cells can take up more glucose from the blood stream.
· The foods recommended also have high levels of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, which all help manage blood sugar levels, lowers cholesterol, and also decreases the risk of complications of diabetes, including eye health, kidneys, neuropathic pain, neuropathy, heart disease, and stroke risk.
So what foods do we eat?
· Fruits: Absolutely any and all! Can be fresh or frozen (unsweetened), whatever you can afford and enjoy! Examples include apples, bananas, grapes, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, pears, peaches, oranges, mandarins, pineapple, melons, and many more! Choose whole fruits instead of fruit juice. Choose fruit canned in natural juice instead of syrup.
· Non-starchy vegetables/non-sweet fruits: Absolutely any and all! Can be fresh, streamed, roasted (without oil), baked, canned in water, or frozen (without sauces), whatever you can afford and enjoy! Examples include broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, bell peppers, zucchini, kale, eggplant, lettuce, salad greens, cabbage, snow peas, celery, tomatoes, cucumbers, asparagus, onions, mushrooms, Brussels sprouts, and many more!
· Starchy Vegetables: Includes potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, beets, pumpkin and carrots. These can be enjoyed as well, but these contribute to the ‘grains’ portion of the power plate, not the vegetables part!
· Whole Grains: Brown/black/red/wild rice, wholegrain pasta, wholegrain couscous, brown rice pasta, corn/cornmeal/polenta, oatmeal, millet, sorghum, rye, amaranth, bulgur, teff, quinoa, barley, popcorn (without oil), buckwheat, farro, corn tortillas, sprouted tortillas (Ezekiel), and sprouted or pumpernickel bread.
· Legumes: Black beans, kidney beans, cannellini beans, broad beans, lupini beans, fat-free refried beans, pinto beans, peas, green beans, peas, lima beans, navy beans, white beans, split peas, lentils, chickpeas, low-fat soy milk (make sure no oil in ingredients), tofu, and tempeh.
· Higher fat plant foods: Avocado, olives, nuts (almonds, walnuts, cashews, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, peanuts), seeds (sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, flax seeds), nut butters (peanut butter, almond butter), seed butters (tahini). Choose all raw and unsalted, with minimal added ingredients, no added oils. These foods should be used as condiments to make sauces, or a tsp sprinkled over a meal, not eaten by the handful.
What your plate should look like, on average, if everything you ate over a day was placed on a plate, meaning, not every meal has to look like this, but the total day’s food should:
What foods do we minimize/avoid?
· Red meats: All including beef, lamb, pork, bacon, ham etc.
· White meats: All including chicken, turkey, fish etc.
· Dairy foods: All including milk, cheese, yoghurt, butter, cream, creamer, ice-cream, frozen yoghurt, ghee.
· Eggs: including egg whites, egg beaters and products containing eggs.
· Oils and fried foods: All including olive oil, coconut oil, flax oil, dressings and sauces with oil, deep-fried foods, most restaurant food.
· Processed and refined foods: fast-food, cookies, cakes, candy, chocolate bars, protein powders, protein bars, granola bars, most packaged colorful ‘food’, kid’s cereal, soda, sweetened beverages.
· Alcohol, tobacco, other drugs: including marijuana, vaping, hookah etc. Preferably avoid caffeine (one cup coffee with plant-based milk or black, maximum).
· B12, low dose daily
· 1 Brazil nut weekly
· 4 sheets nori (seaweed sheets) weekly
Making food taste good! (How??):
Flavoring foods (approved seasonings):
· Salt-free Mrs Dash mixes
· Garlic, ginger, shallot, chives and onions, and their dried forms.
· Dried herbs and spices: Italian herbs, cumin, Cajun, chili, pepper, garlic powder, ginger powder, onion powder, oregano, curry powder, turmeric, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, mustard powder, celery, paprika, Cajun, cardamom, chipotle, harissa, herbes de provence, horseradish, lemongrass, Jerk, Mexican blend, Moroccan blend, peri peri, saffron, Sichuan, tamarind, thyme, tarragon, wasabi, and Zaatar.
· Fresh and dried Herbs: Any and all, including basil, mint, cilantro, parsley, oregano, rosemary, dill, chives, sage, celery root.
· Ginger, turmeric.
· Vinegars: rice vinegar, balsamic vinegar, white/red wine vinegar, apple cider, citrus, raspberry and other fruit infused vinegars without added sugar.
· Lemon juice, lime juice.
· Tomato paste, puree, or canned tomatoes, sundried tomatoes.
· Spoonful of nut/seed butter/avocado with lemon/lime/vinegar, herbs/spices makes great dressings and sauces! Examples:
o Almond butter, lime juice, ginger, almond milk, curry powder
o Tahini, lemon juice, water
o Avocado, lime, tomato, pepper, garlic
o Peanut butter, curry powder, soy milk
o Peanut butter, balsamic vinegar, paprika
o Chickpeas, tahini, lemon, cumin
1. Oatmeal! Choose the old-fashioned plain kind, cook in water or a plant-based milk (almond, soy, cashew, hemp, oat, hazelnut, macadamia, any you like!) then flavor with:
· Grated apple, raisins, and cinnamon
· Frozen berries
· Mashed banana cooked in
· Grated carrot, raisins, walnuts
· Applesauce (no added sugar)
· Cinnamon and vanilla
· Pureed pumpkin and Pumpkin spices
2. Other hot cereals: Similar to oatmeal, but can choose a wide variety of grains - quinoa or quino flakes, millet, brown rice farina, brown rice, mix it up!
3. Muesli: Mix of rolled grains, dried fruits, bran cereal, nuts, seeds, serve with plant-based milk and fresh fruits.
4. Overnight oatmeal: Soak rolled grains in plant-based milk or water overnight with fruit, no need to cook!
5. Fruit salads: Chop up your favorites and serve!
6. Chickpea ‘cereal’: cooked chickpeas topped with fresh fruit and plant-based milk.
7. Sprouted toast, or corn tortillas, topped with:
· Mashed banana
· Sliced strawberries and cinnamon
· Beans warmed in tomato paste or fresh tomatoes and spinach
· ‘Fake jam’: pureed cooked blueberries
· Cooked kale and chickpeas with balsamic vinegar
· Homemade hummus: pureed chickpeas, lemon juice, almond milk, garlic, cumin (try adding roasted beets or pumpkin!)
· Mushrooms and spinach cooked in balsamic vinegar with kidney beans
· Tomato paste, spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes and basil ‘pizza style’.
· Fat-free refried beans and cucumber
8. Sweet potato ‘toast’: thinly sliced baked sweet potato, with any toast topping!
9. Cooked Breakfasts:
· Baked sweet potato, mushrooms, and tomato in oven (no oil), serve over spinach leaves with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.
· Grated potato or left-over cooked potatoes, mixed with shredded cabbage, frozen peas/corn and curry powder, cooked in a non-stick pan without oil.
· Silken tofu, cooked in non-stick pan like scrambled eggs, mix with curry powder for flavor, spinach, pepper, and chopped tomatoes.
10. Healthy bars made with rolled grains, mashed banana, applesauce, berries, dried fruit, small amount of nuts/seeds if desired and baked.
11. Any leftovers!
· Mixed beans, corn, chopped cucumber, chopped peppers, diced onion, shredded carrots, lime juice, Tex-Mex spice mix.
· Cooked whole grain (brown rice, quinoa, wild rice), peas, shredded cabbage, shredded carrots, raisins, rice vinegar.
· Cooked quinoa or wholegrain couscous with chopped tomatoes, cucumber, kidney beans, parsley, mint, lemon juice and chopped onion.
· Shredded lettuce, shredded carrots, chickpeas, cucumber, grapes/apple, and lemon juice.
· Shredded lettuce, chopped cucumber, shredded carrots, black beans or fat-free refried beans, salsa.
· Barley, split peas, mixed chopped vegetables, low-salt vegetable broth.
· Red or brown lentils, chopped mushrooms, diced onion, shredded carrots, shredded zucchini, canned or fresh tomatoes, smoked paprika, chili powder, broccoli or kale. Good with a baked potato.
· Chickpeas, pumpkin, chopped mixed vegetables, tomato paste/canned tomatoes, and curry powder. Good with brown rice.
· Mixed beans, pureed tomatoes, mixed vegetables, and Italian herbs. Good with wholegrain pasta.
· Butternut squash and cannellini bean soup
· Potato and leek soup with non-dairy milk instead of cream
· Corn tortilla filled with black beans, corn, shredded lettuce, shredded carrot, corn and salsa.
· Any of the toast suggestions above
· Beans/chickpeas/lentils, mixed with cooked potato/sweet potato, diced onion, rolled oats, paprika, curry powder, and spinach, processed together and shaped into burgers.
· Falafel made with chickpeas, parsley and cumin and oven baked, on a roasted vegetable salad.
5. Vegetable dishes:
· Roast vegetables without oil, try potatoes, sweet potatoes, beets, carrots, mushrooms, onion, green beans, broccoli, bell pepper, summer squashes, and serve with chickpeas, rosemary and balsamic vinegar.
· Hummus as a salad dressing over oilfree roast vegetables
· Potatoes mashed with non-dairy milk, baked Portobello mushrooms, green vegetables.
· Ratatouille (oil-free) with pureed tomatoes, onion, garlic, Italian herbs, sliced eggplant, zucchini and peppers.
· Cottage pie with lentil and vegetables topped with potato mashed with plant-based milk
· Home Baked oil-free potato fries with hummus for dipping
6. Grain dishes:
· Brown rice, lemon juice, cauliflower, chickpeas, spinach, garlic, onion
· Brown rice, black beans, corn, onion, salsa
· Wholegrain pasta with lentil Bolognese with grated vegetables in sauce
· Oil free stirfries with any wholegrain
· Corn tortilla wraps with oil-free hummus and salad
· Vegetable sushi with brown rice
· Quinoa with bean and vegetable tomato-based chili
· Grilled corn cob with steamed vegetables or salad
· Lentil dahl with brown rice
· Buckwheat risotto made with tomato puree and fresh or frozen vegetables
· Satay vegetables with rice (homemade satay sauce 1 TBLSP peanut butter, lime juice, curry powder)
· Shortgrain rice cooked with onion, tomato paste and Mexican spices served with refried beans and salad
· Rice paper rolls filled with fresh herbs and shredded vegetables with peanut dip (peanut/almond butter, curry powder and vinegar)
· Rice paper rolls filled with vegetables and oven baked
· Stir Fry wholegrain noodles with vegetables
· Wholegrain lasagna with vegetables, tomato puree (no cheese of course!), can use oil-free hummus.
1. Oatmeal cookies: oats mixed with mashed banana +/- raisins, baked into cookies!
2. Hummus: cooked chickpeas blended with lemon, cumin, garlic, dash of almond milk, served with assorted vegetable sticks, such as carrot, celery, bell peppers, jicama, broccoli etc.
3. Crunchy Chickpeas: Coat cooked chickpeas with spices such as paprika, cumin, pepper, chili and oven bake until crispy.
4. Air-popped popcorn (oil free)
5. Fresh fruit
6. Chips and salsa: corn tortillas (ones that ingredients are just corn) oven baked until crisp, break into pieces and serve with favorite salsa.
1. Banana ‘ice-cream’: Blend or process frozen bananas with a dash of plant-based milk until smooth and creamy! Can add berries, vanilla, cinnamon, dates, or small amount of nut butter.
2. Chocolate milk: frozen banana, 1 tsp cocoa powder, plantbased milk, 1 tsp flax seeds, 1-2 dates.
3. Hot Chocolate: plant-based milk, 1 tsp cocoa powder, 1 date - blend together then warm up!
4. Fruit Crumble:
· Choose from: Apple and raisins, cherries, apple and blueberries, peaches, apricots or similar!
· Top with rolled oats mixed with mashed banana and cinnamon, then bake!
5. Baked apples: Stuff apple with 1 date or raisins with cinnamon and 1 tsp walnuts, bake until soft
6. Fruit pudding: Blend fruit of choice with ½ cup silken tofu
Mastering Diabetes, scientific biochemistry of Diabetes:
Brenda Davis lecture:
If you need to lose weight as well:
· Caloric Density: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0CdwWliv7Hg
Cooking without oil:
* Not all recipes on these websites will fit guidelines, but there are good ideas you can work from. Use the above suggestions for foods and select recipes in line with this.
Quick start guides: