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Clean Eating for the Win!

Many people may think that decreasing carbohydrates and switching to artificial sweeteners is the way to a healthy diabetes diet. While those changes can be beneficial there are more ways to increase your health and energy levels. A new diet trend for people with type 2 diabetes, and people in general, is clean eating. No, this does not mean that you wash your food before you eat it! Instead it is a diet that focuses on minimally processed foods, and plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.

What does clean eating mean?

A good way to look at clean eating is to “eat as close to the farm as possible.” That means that the way something comes out of the ground is the way we should try to consume it. Choose fresh fruits and vegetables instead of canned whenever possible to eliminate the excess sodium and keep as many of the natural nutrients of the crop to give your body all the benefits. Frozen vegetables or fruits that have no added sauce, sugar, or salt are still good options as they are usually picked at their peak of freshness and are very minimally processed so do not lose their essential nutrients.

What about meat?

Keeping meat intake to chicken and turkey raised without antibiotics, or grass-fed beef are good options. Fish such as salmon should be wild-caught when possible as they have a more natural diet than farm-raised fish. Eating vegetarian meals three times per week is a good goal, and a great way to eat clean. Then these minimally processed meats in between are a great addition to any vegetable side.

How about the carbohydrates?

Choosing complex, whole grains is a great way to eat close to the farm. Brown rice, quinoa, farro and wheat berries are just a few of the great grains that can be a delicious part of a diabetic diet. They are full of fiber and protein to promote satiety. It is also ideal to avoid highly processed starches such as white rice and enriched pasta that do not contain these high levels of fiber and protein. Processed snacks such as crackers and chips are also not ideal. Breads should be whole grain with the first ingredient listed being “whole grain wheat flour.”

Clean eating meal ideas

Here is an example of a day of clean eating for someone with diabetes:

Breakfast

Two scrambled eggs, ½ cup shredded cheese, 1 cup sautéed mushrooms, tomatoes, and asparagus.

Lunch

A large salad with 2 cups fresh spinach, ½ cup baby carrots, ½ cup cucumber, topped with ¼ cup of your favorite cooked beans such as black beans or red kidney beans for some protein, fiber, texture and flavor, and ¼ cup cooked brown rice. Try making some of your own salad dressing with apple cider vinegar, olive oil, and spices of your choice.

Dinner

A vegetable grain bowl with ½ to 1 cup of cooked quinoa, 1 cup of spinach, ½ cup roasted vegetables such as broccoli and red bell peppers, topped with a grilled chicken breast.

Snack

¼ cup unflavored almonds or 2 celery stalks with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter

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