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’ own 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.
Unlike others, this eating plan has no calorie or portion requirements (hooray!), but the following seven-day menu can be used as a guideline.
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
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
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
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
breakfast: Cereal with soymilk and sliced apples
lunch: Carrot or tomato soup with rye toast (unbuttered)
dinner: Spaghetti with Spinach and Mushrooms
breakfast: Whole-grain cereal, such as muesli, with soymilk
lunch: Couscous with Asparagus, Snow Peas, and Radishes
dinner: Sloppy Joes made with soy crumbles
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
get the recipes
Spiced Kabocha Squash Soup
Kabocha squash is a vitamin-rich alternative to potatoes in this creamy soup that can be served hot or cold.more
Southwestern Tofu Scramble
Ground turmeric gives this egg-free scramble a golden hue. Leftovers (if any) make a great sandwich filling.more
Grilled Ratatouille Salad
Reducing balsamic vinegar to a thick syrup gives this dish rich, complex flavor without added fat or calories. For a more filling meal, toss these grilled veggies with whole-wheat pasta.more
Spaghetti with Spinach and Mushrooms
Toasting the spaghetti in the oven to bring out a nutty taste, then cooking it in a light vegetable broth gives this dish so much flavor, you won’t even miss the cheese you usually add to pasta.more
Couscous with Asparagus, Snow Peas and Radishes
Feel free to substitute different vegetables as they come into season throughout the summer.more
Fruit Salad with Vanilla-Apple Syrup
The syrup used in this salad is a wonderful all-purpose sweetener for plain yogurt, iced tea and cocktails.more