Favorite Plant-Based Low Carb Diabetic Diet Foods

Dr. Tarrin P. Lupo, D.C.

diabetic diet foodsHealthy diabetic diet foods are meat, vegetables, and plant-based fats

Finding good plant-based low carb diabetic foods can be tough when you are also dealing with food sensitivities. Many times when I tell a patient they have to stop eating meat, dairy, animal-based oils, wheat, dairy, and refined high carbohydrate foods they scratch their heads and ask, “What’s left that I can eat?”

When people have diabetesthyroid, and autoimmune issues, I almost always suggest they stop eating inflammatory foods immediately. Mainly diabetic diet foods are vegetables and healthy plant-based fats. This can be limiting because someone with insulin resistance or diabetes is strongly addicted to highly refined carbohydrate foods. Let's face it, they wouldn't be a type II diabetic if they didn't love eating high carbohydrate and sugary foods.

Some patients go into shock when I cut their net carbs to just 50 a day. (Net Carbs = Total Carbs - Fiber.) They cry, fight, and bargain with me. It really is similar to the same stages of grief someone goes through when they lose a loved one.

I quickly learned the best way to keep folks compliant is to replace their comfort foods with healthy plant-based versions. Below is a list of some of my favorite low carb, high protein, non-inflammatory diabetic diet foods. These are easy to adopt and substitute into your life. These are good snacks for diabetics or anyone else looking to eat less inflammatory foods.

Diabetic Diet Foods: Chia Seeds

diabetes diet foodsThese gluten free, protein-packed seeds are terribly under appreciated

These little gluten free, protein-packed seeds are terribly under appreciated and are perfect diabetic diet foods. Very few patients have ever had a reaction or food sensitivity to these seeds so I tell all of my patients about them.

Although they have 4 carbs per tablespoon, they also have 4 grams of fiber, so their net carbs are 0. Net carbohydrates are calculated by taking the total carbohydrates and subtracting the fiber. When something has zero net carbs like the chia seeds, they have very little impact on people with insulin issues. As a bonus they have about 5 grams of protein in just one tablespoon. They are also loaded with anti-inflammatory oils.

You can just add a few tablespoons into your meals throughout the day, or they can be eaten as a stand-alone meal too. One of the best things to do with them is to make hot cereal out of them for breakfast. Something I really missed going on a low carb, anti-inflammatory diet was oatmeal and cream of wheat for breakfast. Unfortunately they are just too high in carbs to eat when you are in the process on managing sugar issues.

I have learned to make everything from hot cereals, rice substitutes, and faux pasta out of chia seeds. I think the best buy for the money is the Healthworks 6 pound Chia seeds and it is the brand I recommend to my patients. 

Diabetic Diet Foods: Wild Rice

diabetic diet foodsWild rice won’t spike insulin production and it is not inflammatory

White and brown rice are gluten free but they are jam packed with carbohydrates. The amount of sugar that hits the blood stream after eating rice is too inflammatory for my patients. Good thing there is wild rice; it is a much better food for diabetics, insulin resistance, thyroid issues, and autoimmune problems.

Wild rice is not really a rice, it is really a gluten free grass seed.  Since wild rice is really not a grain it won’t spike insulin production and it is not inflammatory. GERBS brand wild rice is a good bit like chia seeds, in that it has 0 net carbs.

One ounce of GERBS Wild Canadian Rice has 7 carbs but 7 fiber and 4 grams of protein. If you cook this for a long while if puffs up like white or brown rice and becomes nice and soft. If you want a more fibrous taste, don’t cook it long. The cooking times completely change the texture and taste of this rice. Since it is loaded with fiber, it is great for combating any constipation issues a high protein diet can cause. It is also rich in antioxidants: it is estimated to have over 30 times as much as white rice.

I have to offer a word of warning. Most wild rice you buy at a store is not pure wild rice, it is blended. Since pure wild rice can be pricey, stores blend cheap brown rice in and sell them as wild rice blends. Only buy unblended wild rice. The only brand I use with my patients is GERBS because of its ultra high quality. It is a little expensive, but honestly a bag lasts forever. A little bit goes a long way since the fiber in the rice absorbs so much water when you boil it down for a long time.

Diabetic Diet Foods: Plant Fusion

diabetic diet foodsPlant protein is much easier for the body to absorb and break down

I love this product and it is one of my absolute favorite diabetic diet foods. Cookies N Creme is my favorite flavor. I recommend it to all my patients.

  • One of the most difficult challenges I have with patients is making sure they eat enough quality protein

Most of my patients get tired of eating so much meat day after day to reach their protein goals.

Actually I am not crazy about meat protein for diabetics, thyroid issues, and autoimmune folks.

Although it is as low carb as you can get, it can be very hard of your system to break down if you eat too much. It is also notorious for constipating patients and has been linked to all kinds of colon cancer.

In contrast plant protein is much easier for the body to absorb and break down. I like the convenience of protein shakes, but it is very difficult to find one that is gluten free, dairy, whey free, and soy free.

They also have to be high-protein, low-carb, and actually taste good. Plant Fusion is the best product I have found that fits all that criteria.

This is also my go-to product for my vegetarian and vegan patients. They are notoriously low in their complete protein intake and this product solves that issue. I can’t say enough good things about this gluten free protein powder. I have seen it help and support so many sick folks I work with.

Plant Fusion packs an amazing 21 grams of plant protein into just one scoop. This is the only product I found that delivers that amount of protein without whey or soy.  It only has 4 carbs from a natural plant-based fructose. Just this little amount of fruit sugar gives it a sweet flavor that is delicious for a protein shake.

My favorite flavor is Cookies N Creme, but chocolate, vanilla and unflavored are all great too. The only flavor I would avoid is the chocolate raspberry; it had a very strange aftertaste and I have never had one patient like it.  Well I guess no company bats 100% all the time.

Diabetic Diet Foods: Macadamia & Brazil Nuts

diabetic diet foodsNuts can be a great snack between meals to keep your blood sugar stable

Nuts are some of the easiest and most convenient diabetic diet foods. They can be a great snack between meals to keep your blood sugar stable and both of these kind are gluten free. Unfortunately some folks are very sensitive to nuts and have reactions, so be aware of that if you have never tried these macadamia and Brazil nuts before. I also chose these two nuts because I rarely see people come back sensitive to them on food sensitivity tests.  They are both very low in their net carbs and high in protein.

Although cashews are non-inflammatory, they can add up in net carbs quickly. Peanuts, walnuts, and sometimes even almonds are all too inflammatory for most people with thyroid issues, diabetes, insulin resistance, and autoimmune problems to risk eating.

To play it safe I turn to Brazil and macadamia nuts as my first choices. One cup of macadamia nuts in only 7 net carbs and has 11 grams of protein. One cup of Brazil nuts has only 6 Net carbs and 19 grams of protein.

I think macadamia nuts taste the best of any nuts, but they can get pricey.  Brazil nuts are the lowest net carb nut and highest protein; they are also much cheaper than macadamia nuts. A word of caution though, Brazil nuts are really high in selenium. This is not usually an issue for diabetics and insulin resistant folks, but I might steer clear or eat very small amounts if you have an autoimmune thyroid issue. Someone struggling with Hashimoto’s Thyroditis should limit them to an 1/4 cup a day or just avoid them and choose macadamia nuts instead.

Since we are talking about the thyroid and trace minerals, I should share this little clinical gem. High amounts of iodine, tyrosine, and selenium are actually not a good idea to take if you have an autoimmune thyroid.  They are appropriate to take if your thyroid is deficient in minerals as seen in some 3rd world countries. In more industrialized countries like the USA, a person isn’t lacking these trace minerals.

Even though many experts tell you to take high amounts of iodine and tyrosine, that advice could make you much worse. If your thyroid is attacking it’s own cells, giving it more fuel will just make it attack it’s self harder. I am careful to only use nutraceuticals  to support the thyroid that are tyrosine and iodine free. I also keep selenium levels low so they don’t drive the thyroid to destroy itself.

Diabetic Diet Foods: Vega SaviSeed (Sacha Inchi Seeds)

diabetic diet foodsOne of the world's very best sources of Omega 3

These are also a great snack food to keep your blood sugar balanced, and are one of my favorite diabetic diet foods. 1 ounce of these amazing gluten free seeds has 0 net carbs and 9 grams of protein. They are also considered one of the world's very best sources of Omega 3, which drives down inflammation in your body.

These seeds are often nicknamed Incan peanuts because they look sort of like peanuts and have the same texture when you crunch down on them. That is where the similarities stop, as they taste very different from a peanut. They have their own unique flavor that is very hard to describe. The closest compassion I can think of is they sort of taste like a dried pea.

To be honest the first bag I ate of these I was not really impressed. The taste was so foreign that my taste buds didn’t know how to process it. That soon changed, as the more I ate the better they started tasting. Now I crave them and love them. So at least eat a few bags of them before deciding what you think. Your taste buds need time to adapt.

Diabetic Diet Foods: Simply Protein Chips

diabetic diet foodsThese chips are made of pea protein and have a great crunch

Most folks love chips and chomping down on crunchy things. Eating a gluten free, dairy free, low-carb, high plant protein diet meant many chips were pretty much off the menu. The best people could do was make their own dried chips out of kale. I had so many patients come to me looking for a good chip alternative that I made it my mission to find something they would like. It was a very difficult process, but this is the best I could come up with.

These chips are made of pea protein and have a great crunch. One 33 g bag of Simply Protein chips has only 10 net carbs and 15 grams of protein. They are a good snack food to keep blood sugar balanced.

I consider this a compromise food, as it’s not perfect.  They dust it with a little cane sugar for flavoring and they use inflammatory vegetable oils to cook it in. For those reasons I can’t give it a full green light. I would say this okay to eat once in awhile when you are having bad craving for chips. I would much rather see you eat these than break down and dive into a bag of corn chips. Use this one with caution.

I hope you will try some of my favorite low carb diabetic diet foods. I eat all of these myself and am very happy with the quality, and my patients have given positive feedback about them.

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