July 21, 2020
4 min. read

3 Best Diets for Type 2 Diabetes


It’s important for everyone to try and maintain a healthy weight, but if you suffer from diabetes, maintaining a healthy weight is even more important. That’s because obesity makes it harder to control your blood sugar levels and increases the risk of some complications. Unfortunately, losing weight can be even harder when you have diabetes.

Eating in a healthy way while you have diabetes is important for many reasons, but especially if you are eating for weight loss. Starvation diets and weight loss pills are to be avoided, but there are a number of popular diets that could help you achieve your goal weight.

The Basics

  • Watch your portion sizes and calories.
  • Cut back on fried foods, sweets, sugary drinks, and salty or fatty foods.
  • Focus instead on vegetables.
  • Accompany your vegetables with whole grains, lean protein, low-fat dairy, fruit, and healthy fats.

You should focus on eating lean protein, high-fiber, less processed carbs, fruits, and vegetables, low-fat dairy, and healthy vegetable-based fats such as avocado, nuts, canola oil, or olive oil. You should also take care to manage your carbohydrate intake, which your doctor or dietician can help you with. Ideally, you will source your carbs from complex carbs, fruits, and vegetables.

According to the American Diabetes Association, the best foods for people with diabetes include:

  • Beans
  • Nuts
  • Poultry
  • Eggs
  • Oily fish (salmon, mackerel, tuna etc)
  • Berries
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Non-starchy vegetables (asparagus, kale, broccoli, etc)
  • Low or non-fat milk
  • Low or non-fat yogurt
  • Whole grains (brown rice, whole-grain pasta, etc)

According to Healthline, foods to reduce include:

  • processed grains, such as white rice or white pasta
  • fruits with added sweeteners, including apple sauce, jam, and some canned fruits
  • full-fat dairy
  • fried foods or foods high in trans fats or saturated fats
  • foods made with refined flour
  • any food with a high glycemic load


The DASH plan was originally intended to stop hypertension (high blood pressure), but it also has benefits for diabetics. Additionally, it may help you lose weight. People following the DASH plan should reduce portion sizes and eat foods that have many blood pressure-lowering nutrients, including potassium, calcium, and magnesium. The DASH eating plan restricts sodium as well as sweets, sugary beverages and red meats.

  • Lean protein: fish, poultry
  • Plant-based foods: vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, seeds
  • Dairy: fat-free or low-fat dairy products
  • Grains: whole grains
  • Healthy fats: vegetable oils

A 2011 study found that it can improve insulin sensitivity when it’s part of an overall weight loss program with exercise.

Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean diet is inspired by the traditional foods of the Mediterranean region, including Greece, Italy, and Morocco. This heart-healthy diet consists of many fruits and vegetables as well as fish, chicken, nuts, olive oil, legumes, and whole grains. This is more of an eating pattern and less of a structured diet. An example of foods eaten on this diet includes:

  • Protein: poultry, salmon and other fatty fish, eggs
  • Plant-based foods: fruits, vegetables like artichokes and cucumbers, beans, nuts, seeds
  • Healthy fats: olive oil, nuts such as almonds

According to a study in Diabetes Spectrum, this type of diet may reduce the risk of metabolic disorder, lower fasting glucose levels and reduce body weight. The diet is low in red meat, sugar and saturated fat while high in produce, nuts and other healthy foods.

Paleo Diet

The point of the paleo diet is to eat like a hunter-gatherer did, before the advent of modern agriculture. What does that mean? It means no processed vegetable oils like soybean or canola, no dairy, no refined sugar, no grains, and no legumes. The foods you can have include fruits and vegetables, lean and preferably grass-fed meat, and fish, nuts, and seeds.

As long as the person does not have kidney disease, the paleo diet may be a good option for people with diabetes. Food eaten on the diet includes:

  • Protein: meat, poultry, fish
  • Plant-based foods: non-starchy vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts (excluding peanuts)
  • Healthy fats: olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, flaxseed oil, walnut oil

    According to a three-month study in the Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology, a paleo diet may improve glycemic control in the short term for people with type 2 diabetes.

Managing diabetes cannot be done with diet alone. In addition to choosing the right diet for you, regular exercise is critical to your health as a person with diabetes. Blood sugar and A1C levels lower with exercise, which helps to avoid complications.

If you are concerned about your weight, don’t stop your research here. Instead, make sure you speak with a doctor, dietician or nutritionist. These professionals are equipped to help you find a diet suited to your specific needs and goals.

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