High blood pressure may also be present with your diabetes. Limiting how much salt you eat can help keep your blood pressure low. Decrease the amount of salt you add during cooking and reduce salt in recipes, before adding salt at the table, taste first, try seasoning your food with (salt-free) herbs, spices, and garlic. Lemon juice brings out the natural saltiness of foods. Avoid processed foods that are high in salt (sodium chloride) such as canned or packaged foods and condiments such as mustard, watch for “Na” (sodium) on food labels. Chips, pretzels, and other such snacks are very high in salt, and check with your physician before using salt substitutes.
If you have prediabetes, losing a small amount of weight if you’re overweight and getting regular physical activity can lower your risk for developing type 2 diabetes. A small amount of weight loss means around 5% to 7% of your body weight, just 10 to 14 pounds for a 200-pound person. Regular physical activity means getting at least 150 minutes a week of brisk walking or a similar activity. That’s just 30 minutes a day, five days a week.
A major reason why many people who attempt to control type 2 diabetes with diet and exercise turn back to medications is that lifestyle adjustments are hard to maintain over the long term. Jitahadi became a licensed Zumba instructor with this in mind. "I said, 'I know me and I don't want to let life get in my way of taking care of myself because I've done that before,' " she says. She's a Zumba instructor at her local YMCA. For the past year, she's also been a diabetes prevention lifestyle coach there, helping others reduce their risk for the disease.
If you are at risk for diabetes or insulin resistance, be sure to get an annual testing for fasting blood glucose and hemoglobin A1c. If you see these rising over time, this is a sign that your body is having more trouble processing sugar. Your healthcare provider can provide further recommendations for medication and lifestyle changes that can reduce your risk of progressing to type 2 diabetes.
Meanwhile, saturated fats and trans fats can harm your heart and overall health, according to the American Heart Association. To spot trans fats, look for the term “hydrogenated” on labels of processed foods, such as packaged snacks, baked goods, and crackers. “I always tell my clients to double-check the ingredient list to make sure they don’t see any partially hydrogenated oil in their food products,” Massey says.
Not necessarily. If you can lose weight, change your diet, increase your activity level, or change your medications you may be able to reduce or stop insulin therapy. Under certain circumstances, you may only need insulin temporarily – such as during pregnancy, acute illness, after surgery or when treated with drugs that increase their body’s resistance to the action of insulin (such as prednisone or steroids). Often the insulin therapy can be stopped after the event or stress is over.
Yes. Type 2 diabetes is a genetic disease. The risk is highest when multiple family members have diabetes, and if the children also are overweight, sedentary and have the other risk factors for type 2 diabetes. Your child has a 10-15% chance of developing type 2 diabetes when you have type 2 diabetes. And if one identical twin has type 2 diabetes, there is a 75% likelihood of the other twin developing type 2 diabetes also.
“High glycemic index foods are going to be primarily processed foods,” says Lori Chong, RD, CDE, at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus. Those processed foods tend to have more white sugar and flour in them, which are higher on the GI, she says. Foods lower on the GI include vegetables, especially non-starchy vegetables, like broccoli, cauliflower, and leafy greens and whole-grain products, such as brown rice (as opposed to white rice), Chong says. She notes that even many fruits are low on the GI, with pineapple and dried fruit being some of the highest (Berries, apples, and pears tend to be fairly low.)
The best way to avoid these foods is to shop around the edges of the grocery store and minimize the number of processed, packaged foods in the middle. Sticking with "real" food in its whole, minimally processed form is the best way to eat well for diabetes. People with type 2 diabetes who eat a healthy diet pattern like the ones discussed here reduce the risk of complications that stem from high blood sugar, like cardiovascular disease and obesity.
Each person needs individualized treatment. Type-1 diabetes always requires insulin, diet, and exercise. Type-2 diabetics require insulin or oral hypoglycemic agents (medication that helps lower blood sugar), if diet and exercise alone fail to lower blood glucose. If you have diabetes, you need to have a medical team (doctor, nutritionist, and health educator or nurse) working with you. Whichever type of diabetes you have, the key to proper control is balancing the glucose and the insulin in the blood. This means adjusting your diet, activity, and sometimes taking medication.[29,30]
Rather than following a specific diabetes prevention diet, the greatest impact in prevention has occurred with weight reduction. Consequently, there is no single recommended diabetes prevention diet. The American Diabetes Association recommends goals of modest weight loss (5%-10% of body weight) and moderate exercise as primary interventions for preventing type 2 diabetes.
Recently, evidence suggested a link between the intake of soft drinks with obesity and diabetes, resulting from large amounts of high fructose corn syrup used in the manufacturing of soft drinks, which raises blood glucose levels and BMI to the dangerous levels.38 It was also stated by Assy39 that diet soft drinks contain glycated chemicals that markedly augment insulin resistance. Food intake has been strongly linked with obesity, not only related to the volume of food but also in terms of the composition and quality of diet.40 High intake of red meat, sweets and fried foods, contribute to the increased the risk of insulin resistance and T2DM.41 In contrast, an inverse correlation was observed between intake of vegetables and T2DM. Consumption of fruits and vegetables may protect the development of T2DM, as they are rich in nutrients, fiber and antioxidants which are considered as protective barrier against the diseases.42 Recently, in Japanese women, a report revealed that elevated intake of white rice was associated with an increased risk of T2DM.43 This demands an urgent need for changing lifestyle among general population and further increase the awareness of healthy diet patterns in all groups.
Insulin is a hormone made by your pancreas that acts like a key to let blood sugar into cells for use as energy. If you have prediabetes, the cells in your body don’t respond normally to insulin. Your pancreas makes more insulin to try to get cells to respond. Eventually your pancreas can’t keep up, and your blood sugar rises, setting the stage for prediabetes—and type 2 diabetes down the road.
Eat healthy foods. Plan meals that limit (not eliminate) foods that contain carbohydrates, which raise your blood sugar. Carbohydrates include starches, fruits, milk, yogurt, starchy vegetables (corn, peas, potatoes) and sweets. “Substitute more non-starchy vegetables into your meals to stay satisfied for fewer carbohydrates and calories,” Compston says.
Medications in this drug class may reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke in people with a high risk of those conditions. Side effects may include vaginal yeast infections, urinary tract infections, low blood pressure, and a higher risk of diabetic ketoacidosis. Canagliflozin, but not the other drugs in the class, has been associated with increased risk of lower limb amputation.
Diabetic’s dietary practices are mainly influenced by cultural backgrounds. Concerning each of the dimensions of dietary practices, there were significant positive relationships between knowledge regarding diabetic diet and dietary practices. Knowledge was a salient factor related to dietary behaviors control.46 Moreover, patients’ knowledge on a recommended diet indicates their understanding of dietary guidelines which influenced their food selection and eating patterns.47 The association between dietary knowledge and dietary practices among T2DM patients in the previous studies were inconsistent. Another study revealed that there was no relationship between dietary knowledge and compliance of dietary practices.58 On the other hand, the same study found that a high dietary knowledge score was associated with following dietary recommendations and knowledgeable patients performed self-management activities in a better way. Dietary knowledge significantly influences dietary practices. In Indonesia, a study was conducted to measure dietary practices among diabetic patients, which elaborated that the Indonesian people, preferred to consume high-fat foods which lead to an increased risk of CVD.59 The trend of skipping breakfast has dramatically increased over the past 10 years in children, adolescents, and adults.60,61 There is increasing evidence that skipping breakfast is related with overweight and other health issues.62 In addition, frequent eating or snacking may also increase the body weight and risk of metabolic diseases.63,64 Rimm65 demarcated western and prudent dietary patterns. The prudent dietary pattern was characterized by increased consumption of fish, poultry, various vegetables and fruits whereas; the western dietary pattern was characterized by an increased consumption of processed and red meat, chips, dairy products, refined grains, and sweets and desserts. These patterns were previously associated with T2DM risk. The glycemic index is an indicator of the postprandial blood glucose response to food per gram of carbohydrate compared with a reference food such as white bread or glucose. Hence, the glycemic load represents both the quality and quantity of the carbohydrates consumed.66-69 Another study conducted in Lebanon demonstrated direct correlation of the refined grains and desserts and fast food patterns with T2DM, however, in the same study an inverse correlation was observed between the traditional food pattern and T2DM among Lebanese adults.70
Interventional studies showed that high carbohydrate and high monounsaturated fat diets improve insulin sensitivity, whereas glucose disposal dietary measures comprise the first line intervention for control of dyslipidemia in diabetic patients.78 Several dietary interventional studies recommended nutrition therapy and lifestyle changes as the initial treatment for dyslipidemia.79,80 Metabolic control can be considered as the cornerstone in diabetes management and its complications. Acquiring HbA1c target minimizes the risk for developing microvascular complications and may also protect CVD, particularly in newly diagnosed patients.81 Carbohydrate intake has a direct effect on postprandial glucose levels in people with diabetes and is the principal macronutrient of worry in glycemic management.82 In addition, an individual’s food choices and energy balance have an effect on body weight, blood pressure, and lipid levels directly. Through the mutual efforts, health-care professionals can help their patients in achieving health goals by individualizing their nutrition interventions and continuing the support for changes.83-85 A study suggested that intake of virgin olive oil diet in the Mediterranean area has a beneficial effect on the reduction of progression of T2DM retinopathy.86 Dietary habits are essential elements of individual cardiovascular and metabolic risk.87 Numerous health benefits have been observed to the Mediterranean diet over the last decades, which contains abundant intake of fruit and vegetables. The beneficial effects of using fish and olive oil have been reported to be associated with improved glucose metabolism and decreased risk of T2DM, obesity and CVD.88
The group that made lifestyle changes was 58% less likely to develop diabetes compared to the placebo group. And the group that took Metformin was 31% less likely to develop diabetes compared to the placebo group. In other words – lifestyle changes and Metformin therapy can delay or prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes. Lifestyle changes (weight loss, healthy diet and activity) are the most effective intervention.
The good news is your risk of developing type 2 diabetes may be lowered with lifestyle changes like diet, exercise, and weight loss. If you’ve tried and failed to make changes before, remember that persistence is key, and even small changes can have a powerful impact. According to a Diabetes Prevention Program study sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), people at a high risk for developing type 2 diabetes who lost just 5 to 7% of their weight with diet or exercise were able to prevent or delay onset of the condition.
In the picture to the right you can see the lunch that I was unbelievably served at the 11th International Congress on Obesity in Stockholm 2010. This is a major international conference for obesity doctors and scientists. The food contains almost exclusively energy from sugar and starches, things that are broken down to simple sugars in the stomach.

Those with diabetes should be results oriented. Find the scientist in yourself and track your numbers and push them to your goal ranges: pounds, blood glucose levels, A1c, minutes of moderate exercise every week, etc. Choose what is important to you, and identify concrete strategies to improve your numbers. A dietitian, especially one who is a diabetes educator can assist you to start slow, set goals, and identify sequential steps to reach each goal gradually. They can act as a coach to help you celebrate successes. and move on to another goal or challenge. Along with the other members of your health care them, let them be your cheerleader!
A good way to make sure you get all the nutrients you need during meals is to use the plate method. This is a visual food guide that helps you choose the best types and right amounts of food to eat. It encourages larger portions of non-starchy vegetables (half the plate) and moderate portions of protein (one quarter of the plate) and starch (one quarter of the plate). You can find more information about the plate method at the American Diabetes Association website: www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/planning-meals/create-your-plate/.
Eat 5 – 9 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Focus on non-starchy vegetables especially those that don’t impact the blood sugar as much as starchy vegetables. Non-starchy vegetables include foods like asparagus, green beans, beets, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, cucumbers, greens, and spinach. Non-starchy vegetables include foods like corn, potatoes, peas, lima beans, and black-eyed peas
The data on dairy products seems to vary. In a study of over 289,000 health professionals, Harvard researchers showed that consumption of yogurt, in contrast to other dairy products, was associated with a reduced risk for diabetes. In a pooled analysis of 17 studies about dairy products and diabetes risk, those who consumed more dairy products had a lower risk than those who consumed few dairy products, A Swedish study found that high-fat dairy products, but not low-fat dairy products, lowered the risk for type 2 diabetes.
In this country, we tend to over- do it on those. Most people do not enjoy measuring their foods or counting carbs. My favorite way to estimate portion sizes is to use the “Create Your Plate” method created by the America Diabetes Association. Simply use a disposable plate divided into three sections (one half-plate section and two quarter plate sections). The large, half plate section should be used for non-starchy vegetables, things like carrots, broccoli, or cauliflower. Place your lean meat or protein in one quarter-plate section, and your carbohydrate in the other quarter-plate section. You can practice designing your meal using this method on their website: http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/planning-meals/create-your-plate/
Jitahadi bought books on diabetes, nutrition, the glycemic index, and diabetes-friendly meals. Instead of slightly modifying her diet, Jitahadi decided to completely overhaul it. "I started realizing that what ['watch what you eat'] really meant was I needed to eat healthier, more balanced meals," she says. She wrote down everything she ate. And instead of dining out, she cooked meals from scratch. Jitahadi swapped white sugar for lower-glycemic sweeteners, traded in white rice for brown, lowered the amount of sodium she consumed, cut a lot of carbs, and made veggies the mainstay of each meal. (Her favorite: grated cauliflower sautéed with veggies and chicken or egg for low-carb fried "rice.")
Diabetes is a serious disease requiring professional medical attention. The information and recipes on this site, although as accurate and timely as feasibly possible, should not be considered as medical advice, nor as a substitute for the same. All recipes and menus are provided with the implied understanding that directions for exchange sizes will be strictly adhered to, and that blood glucose levels can be affected by not following individualized dietary guidelines as directed by your physician and/or healthcare team.
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