I was prompted to talk about this subject following a conversation with a friend. I was telling her what I eat for breakfast and she said that would be no good for her because it would cause her blood sugar to spike – she is diabetic. That got me to thinking! I’m sure I’ve stated often that I’m not an expert and that I recommend you consult a doctor if you are looking to change your diet, particularly if you have underlying health issues. But I wanted to say also, that we are all different and what works for me won’t necessarily be the same for someone else. Changing your diet is a very personal thing and it’s very much about finding what works for you.
People choose to follow a vegan/plant-based lifestyle for different reasons, such as concern about animal welfare and the planet. However, another significant factor is that following this lifestyle can provide health benefits. A large part of a vegan diet – particularly fruit, vegetables, nuts, pulses and seeds has been shown to help in the treatment of chronic diseases, resulting in lower levels of Type 2 diabetes, less hypertension, lower cholesterol levels and reduced cancer rates. Some studies have shown that vegans are less likely to be overweight and tend to have a lower percentage of body fat, which as we are aware reduces the risk of many other diseases,
But – are vegan foods always healthy?
The simple answer to that is no! Ingredients such as salt, sugar and fat can still be added, making the food less healthy. With the increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in people with diabetes, keeping your weight under control and reducing blood pressure and blood cholesterol are all essential and plant-based foods can help with this.
General healthy eating advice
Choose whole grain, low-GI carbs over refined options, to eat less salt, saturated fat, sugar and to watch your weight. Whole wheat bread, pasta and rice is preferable to eating white bread, pasta and rice as it is far less processed. Aiming to eat whole foods (unprocessed) will deliver better results in terms of health benefits and weight loss.
Are vegan diets suitable for people with diabetes?
Vegan diets tend to be lower in saturated fat, higher in fibre, fruit and vegetables and other protective substances like phytochemicals and antioxidants. Current dietary guidance states this fits well for those who have diabetes. Always consult your diabetes team if you are looking to change your diet. If they know anything about a plant-based diet they would surely support this change in lifestyle.
Also, please check things out for yourself, do your own research, there are many studies out there. Diabetes UK has all the information you need in terms of getting enough protein, vitamins, nutrients, calcium, iron and omega-3 etc. in your diet.
So here’s what I typically eat in a day. If you have read my earlier blog posts you will know that for the last 11 months I have eaten the same breakfast almost every day. However, I’ve known for a while that including oatmeal would keep me fuller for longer. So, this morning I chose to include oatmeal – I still added some fruits, chopped nuts, flax seed and maple syrup – I think I’ve found a new favourite!
For lunch I had chickpea curry, I make this often and usually include spinach but didn’t have any. I always add lentils and on this occasion added frozen peas and green beans.
Ingredients for Chickpea curry – made in the Instant Pot
- Water for sautéing purposes
- 1/2 cup yellow onions – diced
- 1 1/4 tsp sea salt (if using)
- 1 tbsp fresh ginger – grated
- 1 tbsp fresh garlic – minced
- 2 tbsp curry powder
- 1 can tinned diced tomatoes
- 1 can coconut milk
- 1 can chickpeas – drained
- 1 can lentils – drained
- 8 oz fresh baby spinach
- On sauté, add water, onions and 1/4 tsp salt (if using). Cook for 3 minutes, until soft and translucent.
- Add garlic and cook for 2 more minutes
- Add ginger and cook for 2 minutes
- Add curry powder and toast for 1 minute
- Stir in the tomatoes and use the liquid to deglaze the bottom of the pan
- Add the chickpeas, lentils, coconut milk and remaining salt (if using)
- Lock the Instant Pot lid and cook on high pressure for 6 minutes
- When the cooking time is complete, quick release the pressure and add spinach leaves – mix well until fully wilted
- I used frozen peas and green beans and added along with the coconut milk etc.
- Serve with rice, couscous or quinoa
For my evening meal I chose to prepare a Buddha bowl. Mine consisted of salad leaves including baby spinach. Left over wild rice and quinoa from lunch. Cucumber and red pepper. Roast potatoes with garlic and roasted butternut squash with a sprinkling of cumin. I also added a few strawberries and blueberries and finished it off with some cashew cream – delicious!
My version of a Buddha bowl for my evening meal
This meal was made up from everything that needed eating today, to make sure I didn’t waste any food that had either been prepared earlier in the week or was about to go out of date. All the cooked ingredients were cooked in the instant pot and/or the air fryer – great time saving appliances.
Did you know? The humble cucumber contains most of the vitamins you need every day. Just one cucumber contains Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B5, Vitamin B6, Folic Acid, Vitamin C, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Pottassium and Zinc. It’s an absolute power house!
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