The Mediterranean Lifestyle for Diabetes Prevention

You wake up one day tired, sluggish, and realize facing another day is more than you can handle. You question if your diet is no longer serving you and perhaps a change is on the horizon. You have a family history of diabetes and realize change should happen sooner than later.

What type of lifestyle do you choose? You have difficulty losing weight, and the standard low-calorie low-fat diet does not work. So where do you turn? What’s a healthy type of eating plan that really works for you, your genetics and has reasonable goals?

One choice you’ve heard of is the Mediterranean diet but do you need to move to Italy to eat that way? What does it involve and how do you implement here in America?  Does it mean you can eat pasta three times a day?

Research recognizes that following a Mediterranean lifestyle is reasonable and healthful. How does that relate to diabetes?

Since diabetes is a metabolic disease that is on the rise and related to the obesity epidemic, implementing a proven research based food plan is recommended.

Due to its high content of vegetables, whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil, and unprocessed foods, the Mediterranean diet helps control blood glucose levels, which can lead to weight loss and less inflammatory markers in the body.

The following combines recommendations for a modified Mediterranean diet specific to those with diabetes:

  • Focus on filling up your plate with non-starchy vegetables and a serving of fruit
  • Choose lean protein options, and include at least 2 servings of fish per week
  • Include healthy unprocessed forms of carbohydrate like vegetables, beans, and minimal whole grains (1-2x week ½ cup of quinoa or brown rice)
  • Choose healthy unsaturated fats most of the time, such as nuts, avocado and olive oil
  • Limit sugar intake
  • Increase physical activity and exercise (moving throughout the day and devoting at least 1/2 hour to walking or favorite activity)

Because the Mediterranean diet is well-balanced and high in fiber it encourages satiation and less cravings for sweet and processed foods. It is more than a good choice if you have diabetes, want to lose weight, or just want to start a healthier lifestyle.

Although starting a new way of eating can be challenging, having great energy throughout the day is more than a reward – it’s a gift you can give yourself this holiday season so what do you have to lose?

Consistency is the key to lifestyle change – waking up on January first full of energy with a bright outlook for 2015 is a great way to start your year!

This blog was co-written by Susan Dopart and RD Intern Antonella Rica