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The Best Diet Plans for Type 2 Diabetes

By Barbara Brody
WebMD Feature

Looking to lose weight and get your blood sugar under control? You have a lot of 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, read up on some of the most popular plans.

1. The DASH Diet

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. 

This style of eating can help with blood sugar control, as well as heart disease risk, according to the American Diabetes Association.

Studies show that people are more likely to stick to this plan, “so it may help you avoid yo-yo dieting,” Smithson says. 

If you want to follow the Mediterranean Diet, Smithson suggests working 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 says. "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."

Is This Normal? Get the Facts Fast!

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If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

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