Low-fat, plant-based diets are ideal for diabetes and the conditions associated with it, such as heart disease, weight gain, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.
1. Begin a vegetarian diet
A vegetarian diet has no animal products at all: No red meat, poultry, pork, fish, dairy products, and eggs. Animal products contain saturated fat, which is linked to heart disease, insulin resistance, and certain forms of cancer. They also contain cholesterol and, of course, animal protein. Diets high in animal protein can aggravate kidney problems and calcium losses. All the protein you need can be found in whole grains, legumes, and even vegetables.
2. Avoid added vegetable oils and other high-fat foods.
Although vegetable oils are healthier than animal fats, you will still want to keep them to a minimum. All fats and oils are highly concentrated in calories. A gram of any fat or oil contains nine calories, compared with only four calories for a gram of carbohydrate. The amount of fat we really need each day is quite small and readily available by eating whole foods. Avoid oily toppings and foods fried in oil. Limit olives, avocados, nuts, and peanut butter.
3. Go high-fibre.
Aim for at least 40 gms of fibre each day. Choose beans, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains (eg, whole wheat pasta, barley, oats, quinoa). Aim for at least 10 to 15 gms per meal. Start slowly. Expect a change in bowel habits (usually for the better). Gassiness from beans can be minimised with small servings and thorough cooking.
4. Focus on the “new four food groups.”
Enjoy unlimited whole grains, legumes (beans, lentils, peas), fruits and vegetables. Modest amounts of non-fat condiments, salad dressings, nuts, and seeds also fine.
A note on vitamin B12: Those following a diet free of animal products should take a B12 supplement of 5 mcg per day. Any common daily multiple vitamin will provide this.