“Now what can I eat?” The simple act of eating gets difficult when you’ve been diagnosed with Type 2. Your nutrition is the largest controllable variable to your health. It is too important to ignore, as your life depends on it. That’s why we made it easy for you. This is the best diabetic food list to help you manage your blood sugar levels. And lose weight.
As a Naturopathic Physician, I have helped hundreds of patients regain control of their health. It may sound simple, but the cure to many ailments starts with the food choices made everyday. After years of clinical experience I have come to this basic conclusion: The best diet is one that uses real whole food ingredients instead of highly processed inflammatory foods. When diabetics shift their eating patterns to whole foods they can see dramatic and quick results. Let me explain.
WHAT IS A WHOLE FOOD DIET?
The Five Hour Diabetic meal plan is based on the successful low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) nutrition model. Strictly controlling your daily carbohydrates is the first step. We witness diabetics reducing their fasting blood sugar levels by over 32% when eating roughly 50 grams of carbs per day. Newly diagnosed diabetics who fix their diets typically see the most dramatic results.
The second step is controlling your daily calorie intake. We suggest that women stick to around 1,500 calories per day and men stick to 2,000. It’s very easy to over consume. Portion sizes in restaurants are of cartoon-sized proportions. They know that Americans want to feel full, so they intentionally over serve. Steak ‘n Shake® serves a steak burger with cheese that’s piled 7 patties high! It has over 2,500 calories which is more than most people should eat in one day, much less in one meal. The kids’ meals are in the calorie range for an adult.
TYPE 2 DIABETIC FOOD LIST
Here it is. The food list that has resulted in hundreds of pounds lost and countless days added to people’s lives. It is important to note that avoiding toxic food choices is just as important as eating healthy whole foods. One salad per week cannot offset a week’s worth of fast food consumption.
Unfortunately, all foods are not created equal. And grocery shopping these days requires a PhD in Nutrition. Since most of us do not have the time to get a doctorate degree, we recommend this resource. Thankfully, two of the best nutrition experts created this book Rich Food Poor Food: The Ultimate Grocery Purchasing System to guide you. It goes through everything on the shelf, brand by brand and label by label. Check your local library to see if they stock it. The weekly grocery lists we email to hundreds of our members all contain the vital information from this resource. Signing up for our resource is the easiest way to take control of your health.
Worse yet, most grocery stores are marketing traps. They are skillfully designed to trick you into buying the least healthy foods, which are the most profitable for them. Read more about hacking the grocery store in our ultimate shopping guide. Never let the grocery store decide what you should eat.
This is the easiest area for improvement. Beverages can amount to over 500 added daily calories for some diabetics. We should eat our calories, not drink our calories. Drink these healthy beverages:
- Unsweetened Tea, Hot or Cold
- Unsweetened Coffee, Hot or Cold
- Water with Slices of Lemon, Lime or Cucumber
- Unsweetened Kombucha
- Club Soda Sweetened with Liquid Stevia
- Unsweetened Lemonade
- Filtered Water
Avoid these beverages at all costs. While the nutrition information may read “Fat 0 grams” these drinks will make you gain weight. Sugar that is not immediately burned is converted to body fat by the liver. Always look for the sugar content first, then the serving size, and finally the calories. If you cannot pronounce the ingredient you should not be drinking it.
- Soda Sweetened with Sugar, High-Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Solids, Natural Sweetener, Honey or Fructose
- Diet Sodas
- Energy Drinks
- Sports Drinks (Gatorade, for example)
- Juice, Fresh or Premade
- Vitamin Water® is Light on Vitamins and Heavy on Sugar (Vitamin Water® Zero is the exception)
- Flavored Coffee Beverages are Full Of Low-Quality Dairy and Loaded with Sugar and Calories
- Hot Cocoa from a Vending Machine or Packet
- Alcohol from Beer, Wine or Mixed Cocktails
MIGHTY VEGETABLES & LEGUMES
There is no other food group that packs as much affordable healing as vegetables. They are tasty in salads or pureed in a smoothie. The high fiber content and vitamins and minerals make vegetables an excellent base to any meal plan. Eat these healthy veggies daily:
- Bell Peppers
- Fresh Herbs
- Lettuce Greens
- Collard Greens
- Swiss Chard
Some vegetables are not suitable for diabetics on a carbohydrate controlled diet. Most root vegetables are quite high in carbohydrates and should be avoided or eaten sparingly. Avoid or limit these:
- Black Beans
- Kidney Beans
- Pinto Beans
- Garbanzo Beans
- Butter Beans
- White Beans
Nature’s dessert has always been sun ripened fruit and berries. All fruit has beneficial fiber, vitamins and minerals. However, some fruits are too high in natural sugar which can result in a blood sugar spike. Enjoy these in moderation:
- Lemons and Limes
Avoid these sweet fruits due to their high sugar content:
- Passion Fruit
DAIRY & EGGS
This food group is one of the most confusing. The high-volume of dairy advertising has convinced many people that milk is healthy, but milk poses health challenges for most people. The dairy industry is simply trying to sell a lot of milk and cheese. You do not need to drink milk or eat cheese everyday to maintain good health and bone density. Read more in our extensive article on dairy.
Eggs often get grouped with dairy. However, eggs can be quite healthy and an affordable source of protein and healthy fat. Always buy organic and cage-free or pasture raised if your budget allows.
Dairy in all its forms encourages weight gain. This includes cheese, coffee creamer, milk, cheese curds and milk fat solids so common in processed foods. If you are struggling to get your weight loss started, try cutting all the dairy from your food. It is also one of the top food allergens, which can cause tough to diagnose problems. Avoid these:
- Cow, Sheep or Goat Milk
- Heavy Whipping Cream
- Flavored Coffee Creamers (Sugar, Partially Hydrogenated Oils and More)
- Yogurt (Lowfat, Skim and/or Flavored)
- Sour Cream
- Cheese Curds
- Cheez Whiz
- Cottage Cheese
However, some types of dairy are better tolerated. Goat milk products are easier to digest than cow dairy. Hard cheese that has virtually no lactose keeps blood sugar spikes to a minimum. And butter, from cows, is mostly fat, which earns it an exemption. Eat these dairy items in moderation:
- Cheddar Cheese
- Goat Cheese
- Goat Yogurt (Plain, unflavored and unsweetened)
- Greek Yogurt (Full-fat, unsweetened)
- Pasture Butter (No rBGH/rBST)
- Eggs (Organic and cage-free)
- Non-Dairy Coconut Creamer
Dr Mark Hyman has an informative video on the topic of dairy:
MEAT & FISH
The protein group is important to every diabetic. Ample protein and fat is the cornerstone for most nutritious meals. Food marketing works double over-time on the confusing labels for meat and fish. When buying fish, always reference the authority of the sea: Seafood Watch Guide. The type of fish available at your grocery market varies greatly by your region, and is not limited to the list below. When buying meat, always look for grass-fed, pasture raised, organic and/or antibiotic free. These are good protein sources:
- Chicken (Organic or No Antibiotics)
- Beef (100% Grass-Fed, No Hormones)
- Turkey (Organic or No Antibiotics)
- Wild Boar
- Bison/Buffalo (100% Grass-Fed, No Hormones)
- Deer (Venison)
- Browned Bone Broth
Most meat at grocery stores can be suspect. Read every word on the label and disregard anything that claims it is “natural”. That is the most over used word in the grocery store. When in doubt reference the above book Rich Food Poor Food or the Seafood Watch. There are too many things to list:
- Salmon (Atlantic Farmed)
- Shrimp (Imported)
- Tuna (Bluefin)
- Orange Roughy
- Cured Salami
NUTS & SEEDS
Nuts are dense and flavorful kernels of goodness. These were easy items for foragers to find in nature for a quick snack. All nuts and seeds are high in fat and calories. It is important to keep in mind portion size with this group. Too often, people over consume these delicious treats. An easy way to estimate serving size is to eat a small pile of nuts the size of your thumb.
Dr Sarah Hallberg, DO, MS, DABOM has an excellent video on this topic:
- Macadamia Nuts
- Brazil Nuts
- Hemp Seeds
- Flax Seeds
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Sunflower Seeds
- Sesame Seeds
- Cacao Seeds (Read: Chocolate!)
These nuts and seeds are higher in carbohydrates. Enjoy these lightly and keep the your daily nuts and seeds limited to the ones above.
HEART HEALTHY OILS
Fat, in the liquid state, has been used for cooking since the dawn of humanity. Oil can cook food without burning, and add more low-carb healing fat to every bite. Unfortunately, cheap versions of oil are mostly sold in grocery stores. These are high in bad fat and not good for the health of a diabetic (or anyone). Keep a few oils in your cupboard for making salad dressings, blending in smoothies and baking. These are good oils:
- Olive Oil
- Coconut Oil
- Sesame Oil (Do not use with heat, only cold.)
- Fish Oil (Supplement)
- Avocado Oil
- Walnut Oil
- Macadamia Nut Oil
- Flaxseed Oil (Do not use with heat, only cold.)
- Hemp Seed Oil
- Pasture Butter (No rBGH/rBST)
The unhealthy list of oils are most often used in fast food restaurants. These low-cost oils are often used for deep-frying, which requires large volumes. Avoid those unhealthy oils:
- Canola Oil
- Vegetable Oil
- Corn Oil
- Palm Oil
- Peanut Oil
- Sunflower Seed Oil
- Safflower Oil
- Soybean Oil
- Grape Seed Oil
Explorers sailed the high seas for months looking for the best spices in the world. We are fortunate enough to find them in our local grocery stores. Traders of yesteryear used spices as a form of currency. The word salary even has origins back to salt, when production was strictly controlled by the ruling élite. Roman warriors were paid with a handful of salt each day for compensation.
Spices are a unique food. They can preserve meat. Spices can also add flavor with nearly no added carbs or calories. Best yet, most spices, from whole food sources, offer varied healing properties. Add these spices to your food, fresh or dried:
- Red Chili Pepper
- Cayenne Pepper
- Black Pepper
- Sea Salt
- Star Anise
Last, but not least, on our diabetic food list are fermented foods. This food group is found least in the standard American diet. Paradoxically, these foods have the biggest potential for improving the health of diabetics. The chronic inflammation of the digestive tract from highly processed foods can overwhelm the immune system.
Diets from civilizations in the past included many fermented foods, but it was not until recently that we came to understand how the bacteria functioned to our benefit. Many regions in the world still benefit from eating fermented foods. Korea eats kimchi. The Germans love sauerkraut. Fermented products make our diabetic food list because they increase the beneficial bacteria found in your gastro-intestinal tract. Probiotics, the good bacteria, are often prescribed to diabetics to help restore a healthy flora to their digestive tract. Add these to your regular diet:
- Goat Yogurt/Greek Yogurt (Full fat)
WAS THAT A LOT TO DIGEST?
Picking out the best food for you to reverse your diabetes can be challenging. Making changes to any diet is hard. Make it easy on yourself. Join the hundreds of other diabetics seeing dramatic results. Let us make your grocery list and meal plans. You will never again wonder what is for dinner.
SHARING IS CARING
Has this article helped you learn more about the healing properties of a diabetic food list? If you enjoyed this article, others may also find it useful. If we’ve earned it, can we kindly ask that you share this article online or through email? A referral is the greatest compliment a customer can give a business and we thank you for helping us spread the good word to the millions who suffer from the troubling disease of Type 2.
Photo by Flickr user: Sandra Cohen-Rose and Colin Rose.