Eating right with diabetes doesn’t mean you have to skip out on flavorful meals. In fact, there are all kinds of delicious, nutritious diabetes diets out there. While you should always work with your healthcare team to create a diabetes diet that’s right for you, some diets seem to be particularly effective for people with diabetes.
One of the best diets for diabetes control is the Mediterranean diet. Inspired by the cuisine of Greece, Spain, Italy, and other cultures located near the Mediterranean Sea, this diet combines bold flavors with profound health benefits. Are you interested in switching to the Mediterranean diet or incorporating some Mediterranean foods into your current diabetes diet? In that case, you’ll be able to find out more from ADS right here.
What Is the Mediterranean Diet?
First of all, it’s crucial to understand that “Mediterranean food” and “the Mediterranean diet” aren’t synonymous. The former category includes all kinds of dishes commonly prepared in Mediterranean cultures, while the latter describes a specific diet emphasizing some of these dishes. This diet originated in the 1960s, but it did not attain mainstream popularity until the 1990s.
People following the Mediterranean diet focus on eating higher-than-average amounts of vegetables, healthy fats, and whole-grain carbohydrates. At the same time, they avoid excessive amounts of junk food and sweets, refined carbs, and red meat.
What Foods Can You Eat On the Mediterranean Diet?
If you’re making an effort to cut down on your intake of processed foods, there’s a good chance you’re ready to adopt a Mediterranean diet. You can take the next step by putting these Mediterranean foods in your cart the next time you go grocery shopping:
Healthy carbohydrates. It’s easy to get jittery about your carb intake when you have diabetes, but reasonable portions of nutritious carbs are essential to any diet. Emphasize whole grains like brown rice, wheat bread, whole-grain pasta, and quinoa – many of these foods are high in fiber, which can help reduce the impact carbohydrates have on your blood sugar.
Fruits and vegetables. Fresh produce is a cornerstone of many Mediterranean diet recipes, and it can also help with diabetes control. Fruits in the Mediterranean diet include berries, pomegranates, citrus fruits, and melons, while some of the healthiest Mediterranean veggies are leafy greens, avocados, eggplants, asparagus, and tomatoes.
Certain types of meat. When following the Mediterranean diet, it’s necessary to limit your intake of beef, lamb, and pork – not to mention all kinds of processed meat. Instead, try eating more poultry, fish, and seafood.
Plant-based proteins. Some of the best protein sources for people with diabetes come from plants, and these are a prominent part of the Mediterranean diet. Consider increasing your intake of nuts, legumes, seeds, and beans.
Healthy fats. Few foods have closer links to the Mediterranean diet than olives. They’re rich in “good” monounsaturated fat, so don’t hesitate to use olives and olive oil in your cooking!
The Mediterranean Diet and Diabetes
If you’re already following a diabetes diet, you’ve probably noticed some similarities between the Mediterranean diet and what you eat on a daily basis. With that in mind, it’s no surprise to learn that this diet can help people successfully manage diabetes.
One study performed in the United Kingdom and featured in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at various diabetes diets. Along with the Mediterranean diet, participants in the study ate low-carb, high-protein, vegetarian, vegan, low-glycemic index, and high-fiber diets.
The results were illuminating: participants following the Mediterranean, low-carb, high-protein, and low-glycemic-index diets all had enhanced blood sugar control. However, the people following the Mediterranean diet also experienced improvements to their cardiovascular health while losing more weight than other people participating in the study.
These aren’t the only ways the Mediterranean diet can help fight diabetes, either. A meta-analysis published in BMJ Open concluded that people at risk for type 2 diabetes could lower their diabetes risk by 23 percent by following this diet. That means it’s a wonderful pre-diabetic diet, too!
Mediterranean Diet Tips
Though the Mediterranean diet may be similar to your current diet, making any type of broad dietary change isn’t easy. These tips should help you get started:
- Don’t change anything right away. Your diabetes diet needs to be created with your own nutritional needs in mind. If you’re thinking about switching to the Mediterranean diet, talk to your doctor or healthcare team first.
- Load up on produce. You should aim to get seven to ten servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Convenient ways to increase your produce intake include eating fruit salads and replacing non-nutritious snacks with apples, bananas, or baby carrots.
- Enjoy improved flavors – no salt required. When you cook with herbs and spices, you won’t need salt to liven up your food. Cinnamon, garlic, basil, paprika, ginger, rosemary, and bay leaves are all great choices, and some herbs can even help you control diabetes symptoms.
- Believe it’s not butter. Butter is delicious, but it’s not part of the Mediterranean diet. Replace it with olive or canola oil whenever you can.
- Eat the right meats. Instead of red meats, try eating fish and poultry. Grill these meats instead of frying them to reap their full health benefits.
- Keep your dairy low-fat. You don’t need to avoid dairy products on the Mediterranean diet, but it’s a good idea to steer clear of high-fat dairy items. Fat-free yogurt, low-fat cheese, and skim milk are all great choices.
Steer Clear of These Potential Risks
The Mediterranean diet can be great for people with diabetes, but it isn’t a magic bullet. If you decide to switch to this diet, be aware of these pitfalls and take steps to avoid them while creating your Mediterranean diet meal plan.
Drinking Too Much Alcohol
Red wine and other types of alcohol are included in the Mediterranean diet. While many people with diabetes can safely drink moderate amounts of alcohol, make sure that drinking won’t interfere with any medications you’re taking and avoid drinking on an empty stomach.
While lentils, beans, and other legumes come packed with fiber and other nutrients, they still contain carbs. Make sure to keep that in mind and to include them while carb counting.
Going Cold Turkey
It’s hard to stick to any diet if you don’t ease into it first. Start by working with your healthcare team to make realistic dietary changes, like gradually reducing your intake of red meat while increasing your fish and poultry consumption.
Cheating Too Often
There’s nothing wrong with the occasional cheat day – emphasis on “occasional.” Try limiting the times you eat red meat and other foods not included in the Mediterranean diet to once or twice a month, maximum.
Not Controlling Portion Sizes
No matter how nutritious a given diet is, you can still overeat while following it if you aren’t careful. Remember the importance of weight management, and combine your Mediterranean diet with regular exercise.
ADS Can Help With Your Diabetes Management Journey
Sticking to a healthy diet is a crucial part of diabetes management, and the Mediterranean diet can be an excellent choice for people with diabetes. But no matter how much of an impact this diet has on your well-being, you’ll still need access to the same diabetes supplies you use today. If you’re looking for a reliable supplier of insulin, glucose meters, insulin pumps, and more, start shopping with ADS today!