• Jasmine Blake Hollywood, MS, HHP

The Best Diet for Diabetes

Updated: Jan 30

The Cure for Diabetes

Diabetes is the topic of the century, from first being discovered centuries ago, to finally learning how to cure it at the turn of the century. Wait... did I just write cure? Yes, I did. Medical doctors have literally known how to cure diabetes for a century. So, why is it a worldwide issue?

Part of the issue is that physicians prescribe medication over diet. I am not saying they don't discuss diet. However, what I am saying is, instead of sending their patient to a licensed nutritionist who can help in the management and reversal of their disease, the doctors would prefer to give them medication. This only adds a bandaid to the problem and does not fix the issue. Thus, people who know they have diabetes (a.k.a. metabolic syndrome [MetS]) or think the lifestyles they're living are okay.

Another issue is the majority of people who suffer from MetS have no idea they have the condition, to begin with. On top of that, if they have no idea they have it, then they can't possibly know how to resolve it. Plus, most people with MetS are diagnosed instead, with a similar condition of cardiovascular disease. Furthermore, those that do try and prevent it or keep it from worsening focus on the wrong preventive measures.

Although cardiovascular disease has a different agenda from MetS, it does not mean the measures taken for this particular diagnosis shouldn't be pursued. In fact, pursuing cardiovascular prevention should be at the top of our lists in addition to the preventative measures of MetS. However, knowing the difference between the prevention of cardiovascular disease and the prevention of MetS is also imperative. Therefore, if we're looking for the ultimate fixer-upper, we have to first look into the differences between the two disease states.

Diabetes vs Cardiovascular Disease

Both cardiovascular disease and diabetes present with weight gain and obesity. It is not in every case, but it's prevalent in most cases. The overweight category is considered class 1. Obesity itself, which is overweight x2 and x3, is divided into two category types; 1) class 2, and 2) class 3.

The World Health Organization defines diabetes as a chronic, metabolic disease state. It is characterized by elevated blood glucose levels. This overtime causes fat accumulation. For this reason, a person will see increases in cholesterol, triglycerides, and hypertension; which eventually lead to cardiovascular disease. This can affect organ systems such as the heart, blood vessels, kidneys, and nerves. The normal dietary protocol is to avoid specific carbohydrates, high saturated fats, and meats.

The World Health Organization defines cardiovascular disease as a disorder of the heart and blood vessels, which can also be caused by increases in cholesterol, triglycerides, and hypertension. The normal dietary protocol is to avoid high saturated fats and meats.

Essentially diabetes and cardiovascular disease are one in the same!

The Commitment to Dieting

It is well known that to fix this condition, all a person has to do is commit to changing their diet. If this sentence is so true, then why is this condition so prevalent? It is so common because people don't fully commit. In fact, people only commit for short periods of time. For example, a person will go for a week, then have a cheat day; or a person will go for thirty days, then have a celebration night; people even go for 6 months, then take a two-week binging-vacation.

Long-term commitment is the key to success. Changing our diet is a "way of living," which means that this is a permanent change, and people need to commit long-term to have a successful reversal of their diagnosis. However, many people don't commit, and instead, often fail. This usually brings about the question, "Why do so many people fail?"

People fail at dieting because of the misinformation and misconceptions of dieting.

According to the Merriam-webster dictionary, the word diet actually used to mean "way of living." Most people think of diet as the food they are taking into their bodies. However really, diet means the way people eat, what people eat, how much people eat, why people eat, how much exercise they get, how much stress occurs in their lives, what social environments they choose to indulge in, and even down to how people think. This means, that if people are going to commit to changing their diet, then they have to commit to changing all of these things. People fail because they often only commit to only one of these lifestyle factors.

Making Successful Changes

Making successful changes is what will get a person from point A to point B. This includes:

  • Adding exercise 3 to 5 days a week.

  • Thinking positively.

  • Planning and correctly portioning meals.

  • Being around others that support your lifestyle change goals.

  • Eating the right types and combinations of foods.

  • Eating the right amounts of food.

  • Removing stress.

Successful changes ultimately equal a better quality of life.

Diets for Diabetes

MetS can be diagnosed at any age; and occur in any race, gender, or ethnicity. When most people find out they have it, they immediately try some diet regime. Several diets that are looked at as diets for MetS are:

  1. South Beach or Atkins diet, which is high in protein

  2. The Ketogenic diet, which is high in fat

  3. Plant-Based diets, which are high in carbohydrates

  4. Weight Watchers and point-based meal programs, which are high in processed foods

  5. Replacement shakes and diet shakes, which deprive the dieter of essential nutrition

While all these diets may work to make symptoms go away, the majority of them cannot be self-managed. For example, the ketogenic diet has been clinically proven to reverse MetS. However, most people cannot manage to stay on this diet for the long-term. If they did, they experience negative consequences from the misinformation on the web about what the ketogenic diet actually entails.

Another example is the plant-based diet. This diet has also been clinically proven to aid in the reversal of diabetes. However, most people eat improper food types on this diet like loads of grains, french fries, and other vegetables that are considered plant-based. These types of foods can bring the condition back if abused.

So again, while these diets aren't necessarily bad, many are abused and cannot be self-managed.

Diets That Work

Diets that work are ones that can be taught, self-managed in the long run, with many choices, easy to find, budget-friendly, and clinically proven.

The DASH Diet or Modified Mediterranean Diet

Usually, when engaging with clients with no success, it is suggested that the DASH diet be followed. [5]. The DASH diet is suggested because it is easy to manage for someone with a diagnosis of diabetes. [6]. Both the National Kidney Foundation and Consumer Reports recommend this diet. [6]. Also, this diet can be a modified Mediterranean diet-style, which is excellent for people who are a risk for cardiovascular disease in addition to diabetes. [4].

The DASH diet can lower the risk of other diseases, can help decrease weight, and can reverse lab values. [5].

This diet is low in fat as well as sodium and focuses on whole organic foods. [4]. It includes tons of fruits and fresh vegetables. [4]. Although dairy and grains are involved, they are limited. [4]. A recommended book for people to read that can help them understand the DASH diet is to read the DASH Diet Mediterranean Solution by Marla Heller, RD. Her work is fantastic, and people see the results.[4].

The Paleo Diet

The paleolithic diet is suggested as having successfully reversed MetS in a number of case studies. [2,3]. The paleolithic diet is easy to follow and can be maintained throughout a person's complete lifecycle. Dr. Coetzee and his colleague reported a case study that used the paleolithic diet and successfully reversed MetS in 6 months.[3]. Dr. Coetzee also has done a case series of studies that include the reversal of metabolic syndrome in less than one year.[2].

The paleolithic diet can lower the risk of other diseases; decrease lab values of triglycerides, cholesterol, and hypertension; it can be successfully be used to lower weight. [2,3].

The diet particularly focuses on low glycemic foods. It is low in complex carbohydrates, high in phytonutrient producing vegetables, allows small amounts of fruit. [2]. It also is low in sodium and removes gluten and dairy. [2]. Clients can find all of the foods they like using this diet approach and they shop at various health food stores to find exactly what they need.

Getting Assessed

Since pre-diabetes affects 86 million people, and it is also essential to understand that people should be getting screened for irregularities so they know if they have this disease. [5]. People can choose to get assessed by a physician or nutritionist. A physician can diagnose people with diabetes and a licensed nutritionist can diagnose people with nutritional imbalances by getting nutrition evaluations completed. Nutrition evaluations assess lifestyle, genetics, and diet.

NOTE: Click on the image below to download this handout.

Other tests can be administered as well. Test that can be administered for diagnosis is impaired fasting glucose (IFG) and impaired glucose tolerance (IGT). [5].

NOTE: Click on the image below to download this handout.

After getting assessed, and if a person is found positive for hypometabolism, prediabetes, MetS, or diabetes, then they can speak to their physician about which routes they would like to pursue. This would be the best time to explain that dietary protocols are the preferred method to pursuing treatment. The physician is obligated to offer medicine. However, people have the right to refuse. After agreeing to holistic means, a person can jump on the "diet wagon" and begin to get their lives back in order.

Take control of your life with diet and lifestyle behavior change and discover your greatest self!


  1. Blood Chemistry & CBC Analysis [PDF].  (2010). Functional Medicine University's Functional Diagnostic  Training Program. Functional Medicine University.

  2. Coetzee, O. (2016). Reversing Mets (Metabolic Syndrome) with MSRP (Metabolic Syndrome Reversal Program) Through Integrative Whole Food Dietary Outlines and Sprint Interval Training. Food Nutrition Journal 2016: G119

  3. Coetzee, O., & Filatova, D. (2016). Metabolic syndrome reversal through nutrition: A case report. Advances in Integrative Medicine. 87; No.of Pages 16

  4. Heller, M. (2018) The dash diet: Mediterranean solution. New York, NY: Grand Central Life and Style. Retrieved from https://dashdiet.org/dash-diet-mediterranean-solution.html (Links to an external site.)

  5. Mahan, L. K., & Raymond, J. L. (2017). Krause’s food and the nutrition care process (14th Ed.). St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Inc.

  6. The DASH Diet. (2017).National Kidney Foundation. Retrieved from https://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/Dash_Diet (Links to an external site.)

  7. Warren, R. M. (2018). Smart diet plans for men: What to eat at every age. Consumer Reports. Retrieved from https://www.consumerreports.org/nutrition-healthy-eating/smart-diet-plans-for-men/Since

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