Looking to lose weight and get your blood sugar under control? There are many popular programs to choose from. "The more weight you lose, the more you'll improve your levels; but how you do it is largely up to you," says Michael Dansinger, MD, director of the Diabetes Reversal Program at Tufts Medical Center and nutrition doctor for NBC's The Biggest Loser.
Still, some options are healthier and safer than others; so talk with your doctor or a registered dietitian before you get started. In the meantime, here’s more information about some of the most popular plans.
Best known for keeping high blood pressure in check, the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet is also an excellent choice for people with diabetes. "It's a plant-focused diet that's rich in fruit, vegetables, nuts, and legumes, as well as low-fat dairy, lean meat, fish, poultry, whole grains, and heart-healthy fats," says Sonya Angelone, RD, a consulting nutritionist and spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. "It's easy to follow, healthy for the whole family, and great for weight loss." The fact that it's been proven to lower blood pressure is a major bonus, adds Toby Smithson, RD, a certified diabetes educator and founder of DiabetesEveryDay.com. "Nearly two out of three people with diabetes also have hypertension," she says.
2. The Mediterranean Diet
Lots of fresh, seasonal food, plenty of produce, heart-healthy olive oil, and a little wine make the Mediterranean Diet an enjoyable choice for people with diabetes, says Constance Brown-Riggs, RD, a certified diabetes educator and author of The African American Guide to Living Well With Diabetes. In fact, the latest nutrition guidelines from the American Diabetes Association note that this style of eating may benefit glycemic control, as well as cardiovascular disease risks.
What’s more, studies show that people are more likely to stick to this plan, “so it may help you avoid yo-yo dieting,” Smithson says. However, she cautions that people who choose to follow the Mediterranean Diet should work with a dietitian. "Fifty percent of the foods in this diet come from the carbohydrate group. Even though they're healthy carbs, they need to be accounted for throughout the day."
3. Mark Bittman's VB6 Diet
Being a part-time vegan ("VB6" stands for “vegan before 6 p.m.”) is the secret to this plan's success. "It's one of my favorites," says Jaclyn London, RD, senior dietitian at The Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York. "You're choosing more plant-based foods, so you automatically wind up eating more fiber and less saturated fat and trans fat," she explains. "It's just a generally healthy way of eating." The VB6 Diet also emphasizes being careful about where the small amounts of meat, fish, and dairy you eat are coming from. "It's designed to restrict you so you make better choices when you do indulge,” London says. “You're saving up for that small piece of local, organic, grass-fed beef."
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