Vegetarian Diets for Diabetics: Benefits and Drawbacks
Diabetes is a difficult condition to manage and your eating habits will play a great part in determining the quality of your life with this disease. The American Diabetes Association states that there isn’t a single best meal plan for this condition, but they agree that a low-fat meal plan, as well as DASH, Mediterranean, and vegetarian diets can help with controlling diabetes.
Why Vegetarian Diets Help Diabetics
It’s a proven fact that people eating plant-based diets have a lower body mass index (BMI) and cholesterol level. Most importantly, they have a lower incidence of cardiovascular disease and obesity. Both these conditions pose a huge risk for diabetics. People suffering from this condition also develop hypertension and are in a high-risk group for stroke and heart attack.
On the other hand, obesity is one of the main contributing factors to diabetes development. Maintaining a healthy body mass does not only reduce your chances of becoming a diabetic, it also helps manage the condition in the long run.
Types of Vegetarian Diets and Their Benefits
There are several types of plant-based diets, and each of them can be equally beneficial for people suffering from diabetes. They are:
This diet excludes all animal-based products.
Allows for dairy, but omits all kinds of meat and eggs.
- Lacto-ovo vegetarian.
This meal plan excludes meat, but includes dairy and meat.
There is also a semi-vegetarian diet that includes fish. Regardless of which type you choose, wise meal planning can help you manage diabetes and control your BMI more efficiently. Many plant-based foods have a low glycemic index, so they don’t cause sudden spikes in blood sugar that are so dangerous to diabetics. They are also lower in ‘bad’ cholesterol, which is the reason why the reduce the risk of heart conditions.
How to Manage Diabetes with Vegetarian Diets
There are two essential ‘eating rules’ you need to follow if you suffer from diabetes:
- Control the size of your portions.
Eating too much is bad, regardless of how healthy the food is. Extra calories that you don’t work off right away lead to weight gain, which increases the risk of diabetes and makes controlling this condition much more difficult.
It’s best to eat about 5 small portions a day. Follow your body’s cues when you do, as it will tell you when it’s hungry. You’ll also need to consult your doctor as in some cases, diabetes patients might have to follow a specific meal schedule.
- Choose your foods wisely.
There are a great number of junk foods and generally unhealthy dishes that are vegetarian. Therefore, you should remember that it’s not the presence/absence of meat that counts. The most important thing is to choose foods that are really good for you. You can find many healthy vegetarian recipes that are both delicious and nutritious.
Dangers of Vegetarian Diets for Diabetics
Do not forget that a vegetarian diet in itself can’t guarantee your good health. Diabetes is affected by many factors, including poor sleeping habits and lack of exercise. You also shouldn’t forget that some of the main vegetarian foods (legumes in particular) are high on carbohydrates. You’ll have to control your intake of them carefully to prevent spikes in blood sugar.