The glycemic index identifies foods that increase blood sugar rapidly. This handy tool allows you to favor foods that have much less effect on blood sugar. High-glycemic-index foods include sugar itself, white potatoes, most wheat flour products, and most cold cereals, e.g., pumpernickel, rye, multigrain, or sourdough bread, old-fashioned oatmeal, bran cereals, grape-nuts, most fruits, sweet potatoes, pasta, rice, barley, couscous, beans, peas, lentils, most vegetables [Table 1].


Checking your blood glucose levels several times a day helps you understand how your body responds to medications, exercise, and the foods you eat. When first starting out, keeping your glucose within a tight margin can often feel like hitting a moving target. It can suddenly spike with no reason or plummet the next day despite total adherence to your treatment.
While some people attempt to manage their type 2 diabetes with diet and exercise alone, this may not work for everyone. In fact, though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 16 percent of people with diabetes don't take medication, the majority of people with diabetes require insulin or oral meds at some point, often at diagnosis.
Obesity: Obesity is probably the most impressive risk factor and in most situations the most controllable. This is in part due to the fact that obesity increases the body's resistance to insulin. Studies have shown that reversal of obesity through weight reduction improves insulin sensitivity and regulation of blood sugar. However, the distribution of fat is important. The classic "pear" shaped person (smaller waist than hips) has a lower risk of developing diabetes than the "apple" shaped person (larger around the waist). The exact reason for this difference is unknown, but it is thought to have something to do with the metabolic activity of the fat tissue in different areas of the body.
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The beneficial effect of the dietary pattern on diabetes mellitus and glucose metabolism in general and traditional food pattern was associated with a significant reduction in the risk of developing type-2 diabetes. The dietary pattern emphasizes a consumption of fat primarily from foods high in unsaturated fatty acids, and encourages daily consumption of fruits, vegetables, low fat dairy products and whole grains, low consumption of fish, poultry, tree nuts, legumes, very less consumption of red meat.[18,19,20] The composition of diet is one of the best known dietary patterns for its beneficial effects on human health that may act beneficially against the development of type-2 diabetes, including reduced oxidative stress and insulin resistance. High consumption of vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, fish, cereals and oil leads to a high ratio of monounsaturated fatty acids to saturated fatty acids, a low intake of trans fatty acids, and high ingestion of dietary fiber, antioxidants, polyphenols. The diets are characterized by a low degree of energy density overall; such diet prevent weight gain and exert a protective effect on the development of type-2 diabetes, a condition that is partially mediated through weight maintenance. Greater adherence to the diet in combination with light physical activity was associated with lower odds of having diabetes after adjustment for various factors.[21,22,23,24,25] On the other hand, a paleolithic diet (i.e., a diet consisting of lean meat, fish, shellfish, fruits and vegetables, roots, eggs and nuts, but not grains, dairy products, salt or refined fats, and sugar) was associated with marked improvement of glucose tolerance while control subjects who were advised to follow a diet did not significantly improve their glucose tolerance despite decreases in weight and waist circumference.[26,27,28] People most likely to get diabetes are: People who are overweight, upper-body obesity, have a family history of diabetes, age 40 or older, and women (50% more often than men).
Including a variety of carbohydrate-containing foods is important; options can include whole grains (≥ 3 grams of fiber per serving), fruits, starchy vegetables and dairy. All meals should include a carbohydrate source, protein and a fruit or a vegetable to help stabilize blood glucose levels and meet an individual’s nutrient needs. An example may be grilled chicken, sweet potato and roasted asparagus.

We tend to hear much emphasis on calories, carbohydrate counting and the glycemic index when asking about type 2 diabetes management through diet. The most often forgotten nutrient for health is the most important: water. Many of our clients with type 2 diabetes are on the run and may remember to eat, yet do not take adequate time for drinking calorie-free, caffeine-free beverages to rehydrate. Since our bodies are comprised of nearly 70% water, it makes good sense to take in fluids daily to balance out our needs. Sometimes the recommended “8, 8 ounces of water per day” is not enough. A quick assessment of the color of urine coming out, depending on vitamin supplements and medications, can help determine what the right amount of liquid is daily. The lighter the color, the better!


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How do sugary drinks lead to this increased risk? Weight gain may explain the link: In both the Nurses’ Health Study II and the Black Women’s Health Study, women who increased their consumption of sugary drinks gained more weight than women who cut back on sugary drinks. (26, 28) Several studies show that children and adults who drink soda or other sugar-sweetened beverages are more likely to gain weight than those who don’t, (28, 30) and that switching from these to water or unsweetened beverages can reduce weight. (31) Even so, however, weight gain caused by sugary drinks may not completely explain the increased diabetes risk.  There is mounting evidence that sugary drinks contribute to chronic inflammation, high triglycerides, decreased “good” (HDL) cholesterol, and increased insulin resistance, all of which are risk factors for diabetes. (32)
My specific tip for controlling diabetes with diet is to maintain a healthy lifestyle which includes fresh, mostly unprocessed foods from all food groups. Maintain a reasonable weight which may mean weight loss and stay active. The key here is: MAINTAIN any change you have accomplished. In my opinion and that of at least one of my clients you accomplish maintenance by being good to yourself and liking your lifestyle. Here is a quote from a client who has done well and I asked her for ‘tips’ to share. We can all find inspiration in her reply: “The biggest thing to change is your attitude. Be kind to yourself.
Diabetic’s dietary practices are mainly influenced by cultural backgrounds. Concerning each of the dimensions of dietary practices, there were significant positive relationships between knowledge regarding diabetic diet and dietary practices. Knowledge was a salient factor related to dietary behaviors control.46 Moreover, patients’ knowledge on a recommended diet indicates their understanding of dietary guidelines which influenced their food selection and eating patterns.47 The association between dietary knowledge and dietary practices among T2DM patients in the previous studies were inconsistent. Another study revealed that there was no relationship between dietary knowledge and compliance of dietary practices.58 On the other hand, the same study found that a high dietary knowledge score was associated with following dietary recommendations and knowledgeable patients performed self-management activities in a better way. Dietary knowledge significantly influences dietary practices. In Indonesia, a study was conducted to measure dietary practices among diabetic patients, which elaborated that the Indonesian people, preferred to consume high-fat foods which lead to an increased risk of CVD.59 The trend of skipping breakfast has dramatically increased over the past 10 years in children, adolescents, and adults.60,61 There is increasing evidence that skipping breakfast is related with overweight and other health issues.62 In addition, frequent eating or snacking may also increase the body weight and risk of metabolic diseases.63,64 Rimm65 demarcated western and prudent dietary patterns. The prudent dietary pattern was characterized by increased consumption of fish, poultry, various vegetables and fruits whereas; the western dietary pattern was characterized by an increased consumption of processed and red meat, chips, dairy products, refined grains, and sweets and desserts. These patterns were previously associated with T2DM risk. The glycemic index is an indicator of the postprandial blood glucose response to food per gram of carbohydrate compared with a reference food such as white bread or glucose. Hence, the glycemic load represents both the quality and quantity of the carbohydrates consumed.66-69 Another study conducted in Lebanon demonstrated direct correlation of the refined grains and desserts and fast food patterns with T2DM, however, in the same study an inverse correlation was observed between the traditional food pattern and T2DM among Lebanese adults.70

If you’ve recently been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, pay special attention.  Research on newly diagnosed type 2 diabetics coming to the Pritikin Longevity Center illustrate how profoundly beneficial early intervention can be.  Scientists from UCLA followed 243 people in the early stages of diabetes (not yet on medications).  Within three weeks of coming to Pritikin, their fasting blood sugar (glucose) plummeted on average from 160 to 124.  Research has also found that the Pritikin Program reduces fasting insulin by 25 to 40%.


Eventually, even though the pancreas is working at its best to produce more and more insulin, the body tissues (for example, muscle and fat cells) do not respond and become insensitive to the insulin. At this point, overt diabetes occurs as the body is no longer able to effectively use its insulin to maintain normal blood sugar levels. Over time, these high levels of sugar result in the complications we see all too often in patients with diabetes.
Research has found, too, that the Pritikin Program can actually reverse the Metabolic Syndrome. In 50% of adult Americans studied, the Pritikin Program reversed the clinical diagnosis of Metabolic Syndrome, and in just three weeks. In research following children with the Metabolic Syndrome, 100% no longer had the syndrome within two weeks of starting the Pritikin Program.
Following a type 2 diabetes diet doesn’t mean you have to give up all the things you love — you can still enjoy a wide range of foods and, in some cases, even help reverse type 2 diabetes. Indeed, creating a diet for type 2 diabetes is a balancing act: It includes a variety of healthy carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. The trick is ultimately choosing the right combination of foods that will help keep your blood sugar level in your target range and avoid big swings that can cause type 2 diabetes symptoms — from the frequent urination and thirst of high blood sugar to the fatigue, dizziness, headaches, and mood changes of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia).
The more intense the exercise, the better. According to the British diabetes association diabetes.co.uk, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) may be better for weight loss and glucose control than continuous aerobic activity like jogging. HIIT involves alternating between short bursts of increased intensity exercise and rest — for instance, running and then walking on and off throughout the workout.
Eat every two to three hours. Spreading your energy needs throughout the day allows for healthier choices to be made and your blood sugar to stabilize. Work towards achieving a healthy meal pattern of breakfast (the first meal), followed by a small snack, then lunch (mid-day meal), another snack, dinner (last-meal of the day) and sometimes a small end of the day snack.
There is no single best diet plan for prediabetes. If you ask 100 people, “What is the best diet for prediabetes?,” you may get 100 different answers – and they may all be correct. Your plan should help you control your weight, provide the nutrients and healthy foods you need to lower risk for diabetes and other chronic diseases, and fit into your lifestyle so that you can make it work for the long term.
There is no single best diet plan for prediabetes. If you ask 100 people, “What is the best diet for prediabetes?,” you may get 100 different answers – and they may all be correct. Your plan should help you control your weight, provide the nutrients and healthy foods you need to lower risk for diabetes and other chronic diseases, and fit into your lifestyle so that you can make it work for the long term.

More than half of the dialysis patients I see are type 2 diabetic – a few are type 1 (maybe 5 in a hundred) – it’s scary because when I see overweight people I think to myself if they don’t die first of heart disease they will be on dialysis. My advice now is to get our children outside playing and exercising – and watching their diets. Often fat kids grow up to be fat adults – AMEN – Peggy Harum RD, LD renal dietitian for more than 40 years


Regular physical activity helps the body cells take up glucose and thus lower blood glucose levels. Regular physical activity also helps with weight loss as well as controlling blood cholesterol and blood pressure. You need to let your doctor and dietitian know about the kinds of physical activities you do regularly. Your doctor and dietitian will help you balance your physical activity with your medication and diabetic meal plan. If you are not physically active now, your doctor may recommend that you increase physical activity. Important benefits of a regular aerobic exercise program in diabetes management include decreased need for insulin, decreased risk of obesity, and decreased risk for heart disease. Exercise decreases total cholesterol, improves the ratio of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) to high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL), and reduces blood triglycerides. It may also decrease blood pressure and lower stress levels. Walking is one of the easiest and healthiest ways to exercise. This is one activity that anyone can do for a lifetime without special equipment and with little risk of injury. Talk to your doctor about exercise. Supervised activity is best because of the risk of an insulin imbalance. Use the buddy system when you exercise.[71,72,73,74,75,76,77]
The group that made lifestyle changes was 58% less likely to develop diabetes compared to the placebo group. And the group that took Metformin was 31% less likely to develop diabetes compared to the placebo group. In other words – lifestyle changes and Metformin therapy can delay or prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes. Lifestyle changes (weight loss, healthy diet and activity) are the most effective intervention.
How do sugary drinks lead to this increased risk? Weight gain may explain the link: In both the Nurses’ Health Study II and the Black Women’s Health Study, women who increased their consumption of sugary drinks gained more weight than women who cut back on sugary drinks. (26, 28) Several studies show that children and adults who drink soda or other sugar-sweetened beverages are more likely to gain weight than those who don’t, (28, 30) and that switching from these to water or unsweetened beverages can reduce weight. (31) Even so, however, weight gain caused by sugary drinks may not completely explain the increased diabetes risk.  There is mounting evidence that sugary drinks contribute to chronic inflammation, high triglycerides, decreased “good” (HDL) cholesterol, and increased insulin resistance, all of which are risk factors for diabetes. (32)
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