The Ultimate Anti-Diabetes Diet | Vegetarian Times Skip to main content

The Ultimate Anti-Diabetes Diet

the ultimate anti-diabetes diet

One of America's most common killer diseases, type 2 diabetes, jeopardizes the health, quality of life, and longevity of nearly 24 million Americans, according to the American Diabetes Association, and that number continues to rise. New cases have doubled over the past 30 years, and because the disease occurs gradually and often with no obvious symptoms, many people don't even know they have it. People who are overweight are at higher risk because fat interferes with the body's ability to use insulin, the crux of the disease.

But a solution to the problem is within reach: a groundbreaking eating plan not only helps prevent this chronic disease, but actually reverses it while also promoting weight loss. Focusing on plant-based meals,the revolutionary plan was developed by Vegetarian Times formerĀ Ask the Doc columnist, Neal Barnard, MD, and is backed by the results of his long-term study. Your doctor may not tell you about this diet: dietitians generally counsel overweight diabetics to cut calories, reduce serving sizes, and avoid starchy carbohydrates that raise blood sugar levels.

But Barnard's team at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and scientists at George Washington University and the University of Toronto thought this might be the wrong approach, considering that carbohydrate-rich rice, legumes, and root vegetables are staples throughout Asia and Africa, where most people are thin and diabetes rates are low. Barnard and his team studied a group of diabetics, comparing the effects of a diet based on standard recommendations versus a vegan-style diet with no limits on calories, carbs, or portions, and just three rules: eliminate meat, dairy, and eggs; minimize fat and oil; and favor low-glycemic foods (such as beans, vegetables, brown rice, and oatmeal), which have little effect on blood sugar.

After 22 weeks, participants on the vegan plan experienced average blood sugar drops three times that of subjects on the standard diet. Researchers found that the vegan plan led to better blood sugar control, and reductions in cholesterol and body weight too. Better still, study results show that Barnard's plan also helps reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. So, even if diabetes and weight loss are not your primary concerns, there are plenty of other health reasons to give this eating strategy a try. Here, we've created a week's worth of menus and recipes that follow Barnard's plan, making it deliciously doable for anyone.

The Plan Unlike others, this eating plan has no calorie or portion requirements (hooray!), but the following seven-day menu can be used as a guideline.

Day 1 breakfast: Oatmeal with soymilk, cinnamon, and raisins lunch: Hummus and veggie wrap with fresh fruit salad dinner: Pasta with marinara sauce and plenty of vegetables

Day 2 breakfast: Southwestern Tofu Scramble with whole-wheat pita lunch: Hearty vegetable soup with whole-grain crackers dinner: Vegetarian chili with brown rice and tossed salad

Day 3 breakfast: Melon with whole-grain toast (unbuttered) lunch: Bean burrito with salsa, veggies, and vegan sour cream dinner: Grilled Ratatouille Salad with whole-wheat couscous

Day 4 breakfast: Whole-grain pancakes or waffles with fresh fruit lunch: Grilled veggie sandwich with fat-free coleslaw dinner: Spiced Kabocha Squash Soup, tossed salad, and pita crisps

Day 5 breakfast: Cereal with soymilk and sliced apples lunch: Carrot or tomato soup with rye toast (unbuttered) dinner: Spaghetti with Spinach and Mushrooms

Day 6 breakfast: Whole-grain cereal, such as muesli, with soymilk lunch: Couscous with Asparagus, Snow Peas, and Radishes dinner: Sloppy Joes made with soy crumbles

Day 7 breakfast: Fruit smoothie lunch: Bulgur wheat salad with chickpeas and veggies dinner: Asparagus and mushroom risotto and tossed salad anytime snacks: Fruit, whole-grain crackers or pretzels with hummus, baked corn chips, edamame, Fruit Salad with Vanilla-Apple Syrup

Health & Nutrition: 

Comments on this Article

very useful

Isn't there a way to follow a vegetarian plan for diabetes & weight loss that doesn't require a major commitment to reading, following and shopping for recipes & cooking three times a day for 7 day a week?

Unbuttered toast is disgusting. Rather have nothing.

I am now using tahini in place of mayo and butter. Yum - I find I need to eat more often as a vegetarian. No dairy for me but do eat eggs. Only been veggie for two weeks. I need a diet plan for vegetarian with 4 to 5 smaller meals - any suggestions?

Please send me recipe for Masa Harina Cheese Dough. Thank you.

Eat little and live bigger and longer. Think that what you consume in energy from the planet needs to be repaid. If you ration yourself you will live longer and be healthier, ensuring a better quality of life. Short fasts, vegetarianism and periodic detoxing is the way.

All I know is that since going vegetarian 3 weeks ago my FBS has been under 90! Crazy

I wonder if you couldn't help; my father has type 2 diabetes. however he is 5'7, and weighs 178 lbs. He is on a restricted, low salt, low sugar, low potassium, low carb diet, and , only allowed 24 ozs. of liquids per day. Now, he is only allowed 2oz. of meat a day.Also, he needs a calorie intake of 1800 calories a day. Can you offer some advice on recipes or information on where to look?

Nothin but carbs. These would spike my blood sugar. Hummus veggie wrap doesn't even tell you what to use as wrap.

I agree with Rayca. If I had eaten this when I had gestational diabetes I would've had big problems.

Patricia, your father is the type of diabetic who has little movement when he eats. If a food does not have protein, it has carbs and visa versa. A few things that would help are low fat nut butters. They comd in Almond, pistachio, cashew, etc. Two tablespoons is usually about 100 C full of protein if you buy no salt, no sugar variety. You can add your own salt and sweetener. Substitute vegetables for pasta. Eggplant parmesean with no pasta. Lasagana can be made the same way. If you don't want to cook and are tired of salads, try soups or make your own avacado or chick pea dip with pita chips. You can get a shredder and make your own coleslaw with tofo dressing in a snap or roll the cabbage in a tortilla and brown it on the stove. Just remember to cut the cabbage the night before and soak in your dressing. That way it cooks up very quickly. There are some south american fruits and veges that are full of protein. Just look them up online. GOOD LUCK and take care.

I think the veg times is being disingenuous by claiming that this diet will "reverse diabetes", that's a false claim, regardless of religious beliefs or dietary preference, one does a disservice to themselves by claiming that a diet can reverse a disease that has multiple causes and management challenges, especially a diet high in carbs. It's no surprise that neal barnard's name is mention. I'm sure he is a decent person, but one should cite unscientific claims and get into hot water like other doctors such as dr. mercola.

Also may I add that there are flaws with dr. barnard's studies, India for instance especially south india has the highest rates of diabetes in the world and many folks are vegetarians, even those who aren't, love vegetarian food because it tastes delicious. Perhaps, its genetics, lack of exercise,etc but touting diets to reverse it is disingenuous. Also although many indians eat dairy, many are lactose intolerant, so dairy types may be more limited. Also dairy products are not a staple cuisine, like in western countries, cheese is usually just limited to paneer and many vegetarian indian restaurants do not focus on it, compared to many European countries where cheese is a big thing.

There is a good amount of literature in medical and nutrition journals demonstrating that very low fat vegan diets reverse type II diabetes and improve control of type I diabetes. However, vegetarian diets may have a high fat content, and this is true for south Indian diets which rely on coconut fat and ghee, as well as American vegetarian diets which emphasize cheese, butter, egg yolk, sauteed and fried foods, and other unhealthy high fat foods.

How do I find more info on this diet plan? Is there a book? Would like to know how to create my own meal plans. Ty!

I am afraid to eat pasta and bread and crackers and whole grain cereals like Kashi or Ezekiel 4:9. I just got off of Victoza and previously off Metformin(from exercise) and had pancreatitis after being on veggie plus protein shakes...very little hummus and beans, some nuts. So the doc said off of Victoza(which can cause it) or perhaps too much fiber...recommended more meat. I am confused. Robin

I'm wanting a veggie diet plan and I'm also being tested for diabetes so I'm not sure what I'm doing or what to eat ?if anyone can help I'd be very grateful.

I have lost 60 lbs. And control my sugar levels. But I am not getting enough protein..losing hair.not sure what to do.

I am Asian, thin and have pre-diabetes (genetic). My problem is that although I eat a 80% vegetarian diet my glucose level spike everytime I eat wheat or rice products. The only way to lower my glucose is with exercise after all meals. I need help with making a diet that I can live with long term as I approach my senior years.

Some of these foods, like tomato, couscous, carrots, pita chips, pasta is a NO NO for diabetics! I need real solutions. Plus soy no good for those trying to conceive. healthy for some is not always healthy for diabetics. Had a friend who is diabetic eat a spinach and strawberry salad...ended up in a diabetic shock in the hospital!

Good post. I'm facing many of these issues as well..