Feel better and eat well as a vegetarian

Type 1 or type 2 diabetes provide a healthy option for choosing to be a vegetarian. Research has shown that following a vegetarian diet can help you better manage your diabetes. It has also been shown to help prevent or reverse type 2 diabetes.

A lot of Type 1 and 2 diabetes patients have decided to follow the vegan diet and the benefits of a plant-based diet. The results are favorable for many of them.

Fat and fiber

If you follow a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, you reduce the saturated and trans fats in your diet, which can reduce your risk of chronic disease. These types of fats can clog and damage your arteries and heart. Compared to a typical American diet, a vegetarian diet is higher in fiber. The recommended intake of fiber for adults with or without diabetes is 20 to 35 grams per day. When you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, you will most likely meet or even exceed this amount.

Foods that are high in fiber are slower to digest so elevations in your blood sugar are less likely to occur. Fiber also provides a feeling of fullness, which usually reduces the overall number of calories eaten and may help you lose weight too.

There are different types of vegetarian diets:

  • Ovo vegetarianism: excludes all meat and dairy, but includes eggs
  • Lacto vegetarianism: excludes all meat and eggs, but includes dairy
  • Ovo-lacto vegetarianism: excludes all meat, but includes both dairy, milk and honey — this type of vegetarian is what most people commonly call plain old “vegetarian”
  • Veganism: excludes all meat (and animal products like leather) plus dairy, eggs and honey
  • Raw veganism: includes only fresh and uncooked fruit, nuts, seeds, and vegetables. Vegetables can only be cooked up to a certain temperature
  • Pescetarianism: excludes all meat, but includes fish
  • Flexitarianism: is not really a form of vegetarianism, but those who call themselves “flexitarians” eat a mostly vegetarian diet, with occasional inclusion of meat, dairy or eggs

The danger is that you may consider yourself a vegetarian, but keep in mind you could still be eating unhealthy processed foods! A healthy plant-based diet means avoiding all meat (including fish), dairy and eggs; it is composed of whole foods, which means avoiding refined and processed foods (such as olive oil or any artificial foods with chemical additives).

People who choose to follow a vegetarian diet will eat a variety of vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains, nuts and low-fat dairy products (lacto vegetarians) to ensure that they get the necessary daily nutrition.  They should try to eat foods in their whole or natural state, for example, an apple instead of apple juice and should include the peel for even more fiber.

Some patients have had bad experience when adopting  the vegetarian or vegan diet. They complain of B-12 and iron deficiency, hypoglycemia, hypothyroidism, adrenal exhaustion. They claim that they have recovered from their health problem by getting back to normal diet.  Dolores says, “I would never recommend a diabetic go full vegetarian. Eat more vegetables and reduce the amount of meat you eat? Sure! Cutting meat entirely makes nutrition and blood sugar control way too difficult.”