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My daughter had heard that Type 1 Diabetics tend to gain weight from the life saving insulin they need to inject several times a day.
There is also the common knowledge that being overweight or obese increases the chances of developing Type 2 Diabetes.
It is also widely known that being overweight significantly increases the risk of heart attack and stroke, and diabetes just further increases that risk.
Needless to say I am with my daughter in these concerns for her son which puts me constantly on the hunt for the safest most effective diet plan for a diabetic.
While at five years old Alex is not overweight, we want to keep him healthy and hopefully prevent any weight gain as he gets older to lower his risk of heart disease and stroke or any other diabetes complications for that matter.
My mother was a Type 2 Diabetic and struggled with obesity her whole life. She never did drop those extra pounds and I wonder if any of these diets may have helped her.
The DASH Plan
Originally the Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension (DASH plan) was developed to help treat or prevent high blood pressure.
It may also reduce the risk of developing other diseases including diabetes and may even aid in weight loss.
When following the DASH plan you should reduce portion sizes and be sure to include foods rich in blood pressure lowering nutrients such as calcium, potassium and magnesium.
Including the following foods will ensure the necessary nutrients:
- lean protein (fish, poultry)
- plant based foods (fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds)
- dairy (fat free or low fat dairy products
- whole grains
- healthy fats
Reduce sodium, sugary drinks, sweets and red meats while on this plan as well.
The Keto Diet
The Ketogenic (Keto)Diet plan severely restricts carbohydrate intake. It essentially is forcing the body to burn fat for fuel rather than the normal sugar extracted from the carbs eaten.
- low-carb vegetables
- healthy fats
Some people have found the Keto diet is helpful in managing both type 1 and type 2 diabetes because of the low-carb nature of this diet.
Because insulin dosage is usally calculated by carb intake this diet may require a dosage change and for this reason any diabetic considering the Keto diet should work closely with their doctor.
The Mediterranean diet is derived from the traditional foods from the Mediterranean countries including Greece, Italy and Morocco.
This diet is rich is a fatty acid (oleic acid) which is found naturally in animal and vegetable based fats and oils.
When following the Mediterranean diet include:
- protein ( poultry, salmon and other fatty fish, eggs)
- fruits, vegetables like artichokes and cucumbers, beans, nuts and seeds
- healthy fats (olive oil, nuts such as almonds)
- red meat limited to once a month
- wine in moderation
According to a Diabetes Spectrum study, a Mediterranean diet may be successful in lowering fasting glucose levels, reducing body weight and also reducing the risk of metabolic disorder.
The Paleo Diet
Those who follow the Paleo diet eat only those foods that would have been accessable to our ancient ancesters, food they could hunt or gather. These people firmly believe that modern agriculture is causing chronic disease.
This diet includes:
- protein (meat, poultry, fish)
- non-starchy vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts (no peanuts)
- healthy fats (olive oil, avacado oil, coconut oil, flaxseed oil, walnut oil)
As long as the person does not have any form of kidney disease the paleo diet may be a good option for diabetics.
A three month study in the Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology states that a Paleo diet may help improve glycemic control in the short term for Type 2 Diabetics.
The Gluten Free Diet
It seems Gluten-free diets have recently become trendy but for a person with Celiac disease it is necessary for them to eliminate gluten in order to prevent serious damage to their colon and body.
Celiac is an autoimmune disorder that causes your immune system to attack your gut and nervous system. It also promotes inflammation throughout the body, possibly leading to chronic disease.
Gluten is found in wheat, barley, rye and all types of food made from these grains. The American Diabetes Association states that 10% of those with Type 1 Diabetes also have Celiac disease
Be sure to ask your doctor to test for Celiac. Even with a negative test the possibility of being intolerant to gluten still exists so you could discuss whether the gluten free diet is for you.
Remember that gluten free does not mean low carb so if you don’t have to go gluten free why complicate meal planning with further restrictions.
Vegetarian and Vegan Diets
Some diabetics successfully focus on vegetarian or vegan diets.
While these diets are similar, there is a subtle but key difference.
Vegetarians eat no meat but they will consume other animal products like milk, eggs or butter.
Vegans will not eat meat or any animal product including honey, milk or gelatin.
Foods both of these diets eat include:
- dark, leafy vegetables
- whole grains
While thes diets can be quite healthy you may miss out on a few key nutrients so a supplement may be necessary for calcium, iodine, B-12 and zinc. Discuss with your doctor which supplements would be best suited to your individual needs.
For the best results with weight loss include both aerobic exercise and strength training.
Aerobic exercise has a ton of benefits for diabetics such as:
- helps your body use insulin better
- relieves stress
- improves blood circulation
- lowers risk for heart disease
- lowers blood glucose levels
- lowers blood pressure
- improves cholesterol levels
Types of aerobid exercise would include biking, walking, jogging/running, swimming, dancing, and organized sports.
Developing muscle requires energy and if the body isn’t getting that energy from food then it will burn the excess fat stores which is our goal.
We require muscle to do everything in the course of the day. Without muscle we would be unable to stand or walk let alone do anything else.
Regular strength training will build healthy muscle and aid in fat loss by keeping that metabolisim burning at its peak.
It is important for diabetics to work closely with their health care team when choosing a diet plan and exercise regime.
Each of the diets listed are similar in that healthy fruits and vegetables are the main ingredientss for many delicious healthy meals full of nutrients used to maintain our optimal health.
A healthy diet and regular exercise work in unison to not only lose weight but also to maitain that weight loss after it has been acieved.
I strongly recommend working closely with your doctor if you choosea diet because depending on your body you may require dosage changes with your insulin or other medications.
Thanks for stopping by, if you have any other diet plans that have worked well for you I would love to hear about them in the comment section below. I will respond.
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