A vegetarian diabetic diet may be a good choice for someone who is diagnosed with diabetes. In general, if the person chooses healthful, plant-based foods, like those found on the vegetarian diabetic diet, she may reduce her need for diabetic medicines or even cure type 2 diabetes. Typically, the diet will help a person with diabetes control her weight and possibly give her increased responsiveness to the hormone insulin. Although most research studies combine diet with exercise, the consumption of diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes will often improve the control of blood glucose in diabetic individuals.
It may be difficult for some individuals to adopt the vegetarian diabetic diet, specifically if the person has a history of consuming meat. Most people who switch to a vegetarian diabetic diet, however, report that they felt better, lost weight, and reduced their blood pressure and cholesterol after spending a few months on the diet.
A vegetarian diabetic diet excludes animal flesh and includes whole grains and legumes, nuts, soy proteins, and the sterols from plants. Some vegetarians take their diet to the next step and become vegans. Like vegetarians, vegans do not eat animal flesh, but they also avoid dairy and eggs. Some studies have shown that by substituting soy or proteins from vegetable sources for protein from animal sources, many complications of diabetes can be prevented. There are even studies that seem to indicate that diabetes itself may be prevented or treated by following a vegetarian or vegan diet.
Many people like to have a meal plan when they are beginning a strict diet that is new to them. When following a vegetarian diabetic diet, the most important thing is to consume a good balance of carbohydrates, proteins, minerals, vitamins, and fat. Carbohydrates have the largest effect on a diabetic’s blood sugar. Since managing blood sugar is the primary goal of most diabetics, managing the consumption of carbohydrates can help a diabetic reach her goal. Consequently, some people following the vegetarian diabetic diet count carbohydrates.
When implementing this diet, it is important to make healthy food choices. For example, cheese is an acceptable food source for vegetarians; however, consuming cheese may raise cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Both cholesterol and blood pressure are health concerns for diabetics, so eating large amounts of cheese should be avoided. In fact, the vegetarian food pyramid states that no more than two servings of dairy should be consumed each day.
A medical doctor should be consulted before beginning the vegetarian diabetic diet. Often, a doctor will suggest that the patient meet with a nutritionist to ensure that her patient is consuming the appropriate amount of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. In addition, many people who start this diet are encouraged to take supplemental vitamins and minerals.