The question of what defines “healthy” eating isn’t as straight-forward as one might think. The internet is abuzz with trends and advice on what to eat to manage diabetes, optimize weight, and feel good.
Diabetes diet trends:
- Clean eating – eating whole foods and avoiding convenience food and other processed foods
- Keto diet (followed by many celebrities with diabetes) – high-fat, adequate-protein, low-carbohydrate diet
- Macro diets – staying focused on getting a certain number (typically grams) of macronutrients—protein, carbohydrates, and fat
- Vegan diet – abstaining from all animal foods, and eating only plants
- Pritikin diet – low in fat and high in fiber
- The Paleo Diet – avoids processed food and typically includes vegetables, fruits, nuts, roots, and meat and excludes dairy products, grains, sugar, legumes, processed oils, salt, alcohol, and coffee
Even without a “diet” per-se, the options are confusing. Is it better to eat low-calorie foods, lots of vegetables, or limit carbohydrates?
Limiting calories – a good idea? Or bad?
Caloric restriction, even without exercising, has been found to reverse insulin resistance (that’s a good thing), and burn off fat.
But something to consider is that everyone’s caloric intake needs are different, varying because of one’s sex, age, lean body mass, activity levels, etc. So, simply limiting calories or cutting back on foods isn’t necessarily “healthy.” This excellent article by Dr. Jason Fung, explains why so many people abandon caloric restriction dieting, and even gain back the weight they lost.
There’s Only One ADA Approved Diet For Managing Diabetes
The American Diabetes Association developed the “Plate Method”, which is currently their only recommended nutrition plan. It centers around eating more balanced meals – every time you eat.
This makes a lot of sense, because increased fiber reduces insulin response – for that meal. Reduced sugar reduces insulin response – for that meal.
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends that in a meal, one half should be non-starchy vegetables, one quarter should be protein, and one quarter should be carbohydrates. You may be wondering what qualifies for eating half a plate of non-starchy vegetables, or a quarter protein. Fear not, because we made an app to calculate how balanced your meal is according to the ADA recommendations: You can check out the app here.
With these recommendations from the application, you can begin adding or eating less of certain foods to balance your diet. Something important is that the app doesn’t classify a meal as balanced based on calories, it’s based on the quantity of the foods and whether they’re classified as non-starchy vegetables, protein, or carbohydrates.
In conclusion, defining “healthy” eating can vary from person to person, but trying to eat more balanced is undeniably a step in the right direction towards your health goals.