If you are a diabetes type 2 patient, surely your doctor has often stressed upon the importance of maintaining a healthy diet. However, in the world of processed foods, and ‘false’ health foods, it becomes difficult to define a healthy diet. Well, that’s where the Diabetes Type 2 Food Pyramid comes into the picture!
The Diabetes Type 2 Food Pyramid has been designed by the American Diabetes Association and the American Dietetic Association. It was formulated to help a diabetic patient gain a better understanding of what a diabetic diet should look like. The Pyramid divides food into 6 groups which tell you what you should eat, and in what quantity. Ideally, foods which appear at the bottom of the pyramid should be eaten in large portions, while foods which appear at the top of the pyramid should be consumed sparingly. While most doctors recommend this food pyramid chart from the ADA, there are a number of doctors who are disagreeing upon the information provided in this pyramid.
Traditional Diabetes Type 2 Food Pyramid
The traditional diabetes type 2 food pyramid looks like this, from bottom to top:
- 6 to 11 servings a day of bread, grains & other starches
- 3 to 5 servings of vegetables
- 2 to 4 servings of fruit
- 2 to 3 servings of dairy products
- 4 to 6 ounces a day of meat, meat substitutes, & other proteins
- Fats, oils, chocolates and other sweets as occasional treats
Wondering what is wrong with this food pyramid? Take a look at the bottom row. You will see that it is loaded with carbs! Also, the foods depicted at the bottom are not very healthy food options at all, and definitely not healthy options for a diabetic patient. Personally, we are big fans when it comes to Canadian nephrologist, Dr. Jason Fung, and his amazing work when it comes to the subjects of weight loss and diabetes. For him, the Low Carbohydrate High Fat (LCHF diet) is the critical starting point of any diabetic’s diet plan.
The LCHF Diet
The LCHF diet claims that the combination of low carbohydrates and good fats can improve insulin resistance. A UK-based studied 102 type 2 diabetes patients, who were obese with poorly controlled diabetes. One group was given a diet low in carbohydrates and high in fats (LCHF diet). The other group was given a diet of reduced carb portions and low-fat foods. At the end of the 3-month study, the individuals on the LCHF diet lost weight and showed improved cholesterol numbers.
A Canadian study found strong evidence that following the Mediterranean diet plan provided protection from Coronary Heart Disease. The study showed that intake of trans fats and foods with a high glycemic index increased one’s risk of heart disease. The reasons we are highlighting this study is because the traditional diabetes type 2 food pyramid restricted fats by placing them at the very top of the food pyramid. However, in 2016 the U.S government concluded that high-quality fats are essential for heart health and must be included in bigger portions.
An LCHF diet with limited portions of red meat, eggs, cheese, and no added sugar pays close resemblance to the popular Mediterranean diet. Also, several studies have proven that the Mediterranean diet is in fact not only great for losing weight but also ideal for the dietary requirements of diabetic patients.
Ideal Diabetes Type 2 Food Pyramid
When researched upon, it is pretty clear that a low-carb diet is the best way to reverse diabetes type 2. This is because carbohydrates break down into sugars once inside our body, and cause spikes in blood glucose levels as they enter the bloodstream. Thus, the only logical solution would be to cut down on the carbs, which will, in turn, cause blood sugar levels to stabilize.
The LCHF diabetes type 2 food pyramid focuses on:
- Load up on on-starchy vegetables & avoid root vegetables
- It’s a good idea to mix proteins
- Limit grains & legumes to 1 cup daily
- Spices & herbs can be used to season food
- Consume desserts, alcohol & other treats occasionally
A number of type 2 diabetes patients who have followed the diabetic pyramid chart in combination to alternating fasting, to experience effective stability in their blood sugar levels. Also, stress-management techniques such as yoga are effective in for diabetes management.
The New Diabetes Type 2 Food Pyramid
Once you decide to follow the Diabetes Food Pyramid, keep a close eye on your daily servings. Here are a few useful tips to help you stick to this diet plan:
Start by adding healthy fats to every meal you consume.
- Do not consume too many fruits, they are high in natural sugar content.
- Non-starchy vegetables such as spinach, carrots, broccoli, and green beans are a good diabetic meal choice. Also, load up on legumes such as lentils, kidney beans, and pinto beans.
- Just because you are on a low-carbs diet does not mean you have to refrain from carbs altogether. So make sure you add limited portions of whole-grain foods such as brown rice and quinoa to your diet.
- When it comes to protein, it is better to favour fish over other meats. Refrain from red meats and consume lean meats as they are rich in natural fats.
- If you do not eat meat, dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt are excellent alternatives for protein. They are rich in calcium, mineral, and other vitamins which are essential for good bone and muscle health.
Thus, by cutting down on carbohydrates, your sugar levels will begin to normalize. Also, the increased healthy fats intake will help keep you feeling full for longer, even though you consume smaller portion sizes. So begin eating your way to good health right away!