A systematic review by a few well-known medical research journals has showcased that plant-based diets are not just effective in keeping Type-2 Diabetes in control but also prevent escalation of prediabetes into type-2 diabetes. With so many different ways of eating associated with different benefits, many people confuse plant-based diets for veganism or vegetarianism.

TC46 caught up with cure.fit’s Holistic Health Coach Manasa Rajan, who explains to you everything Indian women need to know about plant-based diets and how adapting to such a meal plan can lead to a lower risk of developing Type-2 Diabetes. 

1. How do plant-based diets help reduce the risk of Type-2 Diabetes? 

The big shift from animal protein and processed foods is the real game-changer. As a result of this shift, the insulin response improves in the body and even a genetic risk of Type-2 Diabetes can be negated with a whole food plant-based diet! Apart from this, plant-based diets also help in preventing excess weight gain which is another crucial cause of Type-2 Diabetes. 

2. How does processed food pose a major threat to people already suffering from Type-2 Diabetes?

The challenge lies in the processed grains and fat + sugar + chemicals trio. Together, they continue to create a sugar high & low roller coaster and challenge the adrenal response. Packaged food that has highly processed fat content adds other risks like cholesterol and heart disease to the already persisting diabetes issue.

3. Can you tell us some short-term and long-term effects of an unhealthy diet for a type-2 diabetic patient?

Diabetes is a silent killer. While we sugarcoat the truth by calling it a sugar problem, it is, in reality, impacting every organ and function within our body—eye health and macular degeneration, nerve health and foot conditions, blood pressure and organ damage. If we don’t strive hard to make better food and lifestyle changes, it will continuously increase our risks of stroke, nerve damage, or even high blood pressure and heart ailments.

4. How can one start with the transitioning and shift to a plant-based diet?

  • The first step is to move to try to eat whole foods for the majority of the time
  • The second step would be to remove processed foods altogether. 
  • The third step would be to reduce/remove dairy and meat from the diet. This may seem hard for some people but it has a huge impact on your body’s insulin response.

5. Can you chart out a sample meal plan for those looking to adopt a plant-based lifestyle?

A quick diet chart would look like the following:

  • Breakfast: Oatmeal, nuts, fruits
  • Lunch: Dal, sabzi salad, red rice
  • Snack: Sprouts chaat
  • Dinner: Vegetable/Tomato soup with avocado, salsa

6. Does a low-carb approach help type-2 diabetes patients? 

Rather than a definite low-carb approach, what is more important is to change the quality of carbs; opt for whole grains vs processed foods, natural fruit vs refined sugars. This approach can definitely help patients suffering from Type-2 Diabetes.

7. Doed portion size matter in the case of plant-based diets?

Portion control is not a concern when one transitions to a plant-based diet because the fibre creates satiety (feeling of fullness). This is the crux of long-term habit change (not forced short-term portion control). If you’re ready to listed to your body and stop eating when you are full, a plant-based diet is great because you feel satisfied naturally in a reasonable portion.

8. Can you give us a few recipes to create delicious plant-based meals that can help a person stick to their diet?

1. Peanut Sesame Chutney (Also, A Bone Health Supplement)

When simple traditional foods have superpowers, it makes everything about healthy eating, easy & perfect! Peanut Sesame Chutney with curry leaves is an easy addition to a meal that adds bone health-enhancing minerals. Sesame, in fact, has 10x more calcium than milk and more bioavailable too. Make this simple chutney weekly and show some care to your health – minerals, good fat, protein & loads of yum!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup peanuts
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds (til)
  • 1/4 cup roasted chana dal
  • 1 tbsp tamarind (imli)
  • 10-15 curry leaves (kadi patta)
  • 5-6 red chillies
  • A pinch of asafoetida (hing)
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds (rai)
  • 1 tsp urad dal
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • Salt to taste

Method:

  • Roast the peanuts, sesame, chana dal, curry leaves, red chillies.
  • Grind the above with imli, water, salt.
  • Add a tadka with coconut oil, asafoetida, mustard seeds & urad dal & more curry leaves

2. Chana Salad

My favourite raw meals are chaat inspired. Here is a simple idea and my go-to meal on several busy days!

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups chopped tomatoes 
  • 2 tablespoons of spring onions
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped carrot
  • 1 teaspoon of chopped green chillies (you can adjust this as per your preference)
  • 1.5 teaspoon of lemon juice
  • 1 cup boiled chickpeas (chana)

Method:

Mix all the above ingredients and drizzle a bit of olive oil, a good pinch of cracked pepper and some salt. You’re good to go!

9. Can you recommend some low-fat plant-based snacks for those with Type-2 diabetes?

Some low-fat plant-based snacks that can beneficial for Type-2 Diabetes patients are:

  • All salads with healthy fats and no oil
  • Nut and seeds based snacks

10.  What are some lifestyle changes you recommend?

Lifestyle changes are extremely important when it comes to dealing with diabetes. 

  • Move away from packaged and processed foods 
  • Exercise daily 
  • Eat 30-50% raw foods
  • Eat very few processed fats or oils