Diabetes is a chronic condition where people have trouble controlling their blood sugars. If the condition is not well managed it can lead to high blood sugar and other health complications. A balanced and nutritious diet is key if you want to manage your diabetes and there is research to show that a vegan diet can help you achieve that.
However, meals need to be carefully planned on a vegan diabetes diet to ensure you’re getting all the nutrients you require to stay well-nourished. If that feels overwhelming, don’t worry because this article will break down everything you need to know about vegan meal planning for diabetes, making it easier for you. There’s even a sample 3-day vegan diabetes meal plan included to help you get started!
Eating a diverse diet is key if you have diabetes, as it will help you get all the nutrients you need for diabetes management and overall good health. To ensure your diet is full of variety, incorporate foods from these major food groups in your meals:
While a vegan excludes animal products such as meat, fish, and dairy products, a diverse diet is still possible. There is an endless array of plant-based foods that can fit into your diabetes diet. Some examples are listed below.
Grain foods are a major source of carbohydrates. Eating carbohydrates is important because they provide the body with energy. If you have diabetes it’s more important to focus on the amount and type of carbohydrates you are eating rather than completely excluding them from your diet. Moderate intakes of complex carbohydrates such as fibre can help keep your blood sugar in control.
Focus on eating whole grains because they are a good source of fibre. There are many whole-grain foods you can choose from:
Furthermore, you should try to incorporate a variety of protein foods into your diet. Plant-based protein foods do a better job of preventing blood sugar spikes compared to animal-based protein foods because they contain more fibre.
Try plant-based protein foods such as:
Vegetables and especially fruits are a rich source of carbohydrates, but they are also high in fibre, vitamins, and minerals. This means fruits and vegetables are an important part of a diabetes diet. Typically, there are no restrictions on the type of fruits and vegetables you can eat because most of them they won’t cause your blood sugars to spike sharply. Just be mindful of portion sizes.
Include a variety of fruit, and vegetables in your diet such as:
Some vitamins and minerals such as iron, vitamin B12, calcium, and vitamin D, may be a little more limited in a vegan diet. However, with appropriate planning, you can meet all your vitamin and mineral needs through food alone.
Examples of plant-based foods that are rich in minerals and vitamins include leafy greens, fortified plant-based milks, fortified breakfast cereals, and nutritional yeasts.
A final note, diet alone may not be enough to meet the nutrient needs of some individuals and supplementation may be required. Speak with a vegan dietitian to further discuss your specific supplement requirements.
You now know what type of foods you should be eating if you have diabetes, but how much of each food group should you be eating? The plate method can help you determine portion sizes for and make meal planning more effortless.
Essentially, with the plate method you are saved the headache of needing to precisely measure portion sizes for each food group, instead you use visuals on your plate to help create balanced meals.
How is this done you say? When you are planning out a meal you want half of your plate to be made up of vegetables and/or fruit. Then you should fill one-quarter of the plate with plant-based protein foods and the other quarter with grain foods.
You can also use this method to plan meals such as soups, salads, and pastas. Just break down the meal into the different components and visualize where they would belong on the plate.
If you want something more concrete in terms of portion sizes, try to make sure each meal contains about 30-50 grams of carbohydrates, or 2-3 carbohydrate sources (grains, fruits , and vegetables), and 15-20 grams of protein which is roughly equivalent to about 1-2 protein foods.
Ensure regular timing and spacing of all your meals and snacks to help optimize your blood sugar control. Ideally, it’s best to eat a meal every 2 to 4 hours. You can include snacks in your eating schedule if there are larger time gaps between your meals or you tend to get hungry.
You shouldn’t skip out on meals because that could cause you to binge eat more food than needed later. This cycle of skipping and binging meals is only going to cause blood sugars that are too high or too low, leading you to feel unwell.
Overall, most foods can be a part of a balanced vegan diabetes diet, but in general you are recommended to limit the following:
Eating a vegan diet doesn’t have to be boring. Here’s a sample three-day vegan diabetes meal plan to help give you some ideas of all the delicious meals you can include in your own plan.
It’s important to note that this meal plan includes about 2000 calories a day. Remove some of the included snacks or decrease portion sizes if you want less calories.
Knowing how to manage your diabetes can often feel challenging. Nourishing your body with balanced, delicious meals is a good place to start.
You don’t have to do this alone! Arrange a free discovery call with one of our vegan registered dietitians to get additional help in creating a vegan diabetes meal plan that meets your unique needs!
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