Metabolic Health

Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: Healthy Dietary and Lifestyle Tips

Reviewed by

Shifa Fathima

Type 2 diabetes affects millions of people worldwide, and there are many more who are prediabetic. The prediabetic population has a high risk of having diabetes sooner or later. Diabetes brings a long list of complications such as kidney disease, hypertension, cardiovascular risk, and several health issues with it that can turn out to be lifelong. Whether you have Prediabetes or Type 2 Diabetes, there is now ample evidence from several research studies that by making a few healthy food changes, being physically active, and maintaining an ideal weight, it is possible to prevent, delay the onset of and in some cases even reverse Diabetes.

What is Prediabetes and Type-2 Diabetes

Prediabetes is a health condition where you have higher than normal blood sugar levels but not as high as in diabetes. Most of the time, you have no signs or symptoms, and it goes undetected until you develop Type-2 Diabetes. Being Prediabetic also increases your risk of getting heart disease, and stroke.

In Type 2 Diabetes, the cells of your body become resistant to insulin and are unable to absorb the sugar or glucose in your bloodstream for their energy needs. In addition to this, the insulin secreted by your pancreas is ineffective and unable to control the growing blood sugar levels, which results in constant high blood sugar.

Synopsis of Research Study

The Indian Diabetes Prevention Program Study of 531 middle-aged, overweight adults with impaired glucose tolerance and having primary risk factors of family history, age, and obesity. The study participants when put on decreased fat, complex carbohydrates, increased dietary fiber intake and lifestyle changes showed promising results with a significant reduction in risk and prevention of type-2 diabetes. Here are a few Recommendations for Lifestyle & Dietary Changes to Prevent, Delay, and Reverse Diabetes

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How to Reverse Prediabetes Naturally? 

Since your blood sugar level is higher than normal but lower than what it is in diabetes, prediabetes can be reversed naturally. You can do so by tweaking your diet plan and making changes to your lifestyle. A healthier lifestyle includes a better diet as well as exercise. Approach a dietitian to curate a prediabetic diet plan for your blood sugar level and your body type. A professional dietitian accounts for any comorbidities and ensures your requirement is met while bringing down the blood sugar. 

When you consume additional calories and fatty foods there is a spike in your blood glucose levels. Eventually, this can lead to diabetes and long-term complications can involve kidney, heart and nerve damage. Weight loss can also be an important factor to reduce blood sugar levels. Here is a detailed guide on what you should and shouldn't avoid.

Dietary Management of Diabetes Mellitus

Actions to Choose for Management of Diabetes

  • Practice Portion Control : Eat smaller food portions. You may also drink a glass full of water before meals so that you feel fuller
  • Eat more Fruits and Vegetables : Such as spinach, broccoli, and peppers. Add leafy vegetables like fenugreek and fenugreek seeds to your diet. Choose fresh fruits or a handful of nuts as a snack.
  • Use Whole Grains : They are rich in minerals, vitamins, and phytoconstituents, and fiber and help in managing sugar levels and aids digestion. Avoid processed carbohydrates and refined flours.
  • Choose Healthy Fats : Such as the unsaturated fats in nuts, omega-3 fatty acids, and vegetable oils to keep type-2 diabetes at bay. On the other hand, Trans-fats abundantly present in baked food, fast food, fried food products, and margarine are harmful.

Recommended foods to manage diabetes

Balance your diet by increasing the intake of these phones to regulate your blood sugar level. 

  1. Sugar and starch should be actively avoided as they break down into simple sugars and eventually into blood glucose. Concentrate on intake of healthy carbohydrates in the form of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, low-fat dairy products and so on. 
  2. Dietary fibre helps tremendously in regularizing your blood sugar level by staggering the absorption of sugar from foods. Foods high in fibre make you feel full faster giving you a lesser opportunity to indulge in fatty or sweet foods. 
  3. Consumption of fat is essential for the body however opt for the healthy or the good fats which can be derived from fish, nuts or any oil that can be consumed at room temperature (e.g., olive oil). 

Actions to Avoid for Management of Diabetes

  • Avoid Processed Meats : Get your proteins from fish, peas, nuts, lentils, seeds and nuts instead. Cottage cheese (paneer) is also a good source of protein for vegetarians.
  • Avoid Sugary Drinks : They contribute to weight gain, increased blood glucose, and triglycerides. Drink fresh fruit juices instead of sweetened beverages or carbonated drinks. Choose water over these drinks. Have tea or coffee without loads of milk and sugar. Do not go for powdered drinks or any fortified drinks.

Foods to avoid to manage diabetes

Even the good fats found in nuts and fish are dangerous in excess. Everything in moderation is the key to a healthy diet.

  1. Sweetened drinks like soft drinks or packaged fruit juices should be avoided as they contain a lot of sugar. Go for the healthy options which are unsweetened drinks like water, tea, or fresh juice instead. 
  2. Avoid eating snacks that are high in sugar such as jellies, ice cream, chocolates, or cake. Whenever it is unavoidable you may want to use artificial sweeteners in a moderate amount. 
  3. Sugar, fat and starch should be avoided as much as possible. If you want to include rice in your meal then go for a product such as brown rice, which is high in fibre or spread the consumption throughout the day to avoid a sudden spike in the blood sugar levels. 
  4. Contrary to popular belief you can have up to 2 servings of fruit per day to keep a steady intake of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fibre. 
  5. Use less oil while cooking and try to get rid of visible fat before eating. Try switching to cooking methods like steaming, boiling or grilling and use healthy cooking oil with polyunsaturated fat or monounsaturated fat. 
  6. Choose lean meat or poultry without skin. Trim the visible fat and avoid the fatty cuts of meat like bacon. Processed cold cuts contain a lot of fat and additives and are not recommended for those watching their blood sugar levels.
  7. If you wish to consume alcohol, moderate your intake and use sugar-free mixers to accompany the alcohol. Drink slowly and avoid drinking on an empty stomach.
  8. Foods high in salt or sodium should be avoided as well. These include any preserved foods like pickles. 

Here is a list of fruits to avoid in diabetes

Lifestyle Modifications to Prevent Diabetes Mellitus

  • Physical Activity : Walk, run, jog, or join some physical activity for at least 150 minutes each week. Swimming, cycling, skipping can help you stay fit. You may also go for structured or supervised physical activities.
  • Lose Excess Weight : Being overweight is a dominant factor for being prediabetes. Losing just 5 to 7% weight can substantially reduce your risk of developing diabetes.
  • Manage Stress : Consult a coach who will help you manage stress levels and keep you motivated.
  • Quit Smoking : Stop smoking. Smokers are 50% more vulnerable to Type-2 Diabetes
  • Avoid Alcohol : Give up excess drinking habits to reduce the risk of Type-2 Diabetes

Bottom Line

Type-2 Diabetes is a global challenge. However, making incremental changes in lifestyle with healthy food choices can essentially work wonders. Talk to your Healthcare provider about your risks of being Prediabetes or Type 2 Diabetes and what you can do to prevent, delay the onset of and in some cases even reverse Diabetes. Also read about how to cure diabetes.

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