The D-Diet Nutrition Basics | Viva!

The D-Diet Nutrition Basics

The D-Diet nutrition basics

A healthy diet to reverse diabetes, or produce a significant improvement in the condition, should be based on the following food groups.

No. of Servings


Healthy Portion Size

To Provide


At least 5


Apples, pears, peaches, oranges, kiwi fruit, bananas, berries, grapes, etc. Eaten preferably whole or in smoothies (juices have higher GI because they don’t contain fibre).
And Vegetables:
Broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, kale, leeks, carrots, peppers, tomatoes, squash, green beans, sweet potatoes, celery, lettuce, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, etc.


Fresh fruit: 
1 medium piece (the size of a tennis ball)

Dried fruit: 
1-1 ½  tablespoons or 1 golf ball

Green or root vegetables:
2-3 tablespoons or ½ tennis ball

Salad vegetables:
1 large cereal bowl or 80g


Folate (folic acid), Calcium, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Fibre, Iron, Antioxidants




Whole grains 
Wholegrain pasta, brown rice, bran cereal, oats, rye bread, couscous, grains such as wheat, spelt, barley, millet, quinoa, etc.


Cooked brown rice: 
2-3 heaped tablespoons or ½ teacup

Breakfast cereal: 
25g or 1 regular sized cereal bowl

Cooked wholemeal pasta:
1 cup as side dish or 2 cups as main dish

Wholemeal or rye bread: 
2 slices


Energy, Fibre, B Vitamins, Calcium, Iron, Protein


2 or 3


Beans (kidney, pinto, black-eyed, butter, soya), lentils, peas, chickpeas, tofu and low-fat soya and bean products (burgers, sausages, mock meat, etc.)


½ cup (cooked)


Protein, Energy, Fibre, Iron, Calcium, Other minerals




Nuts or seeds
Walnuts, cashew nuts, almonds, pecan nuts, Brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, etc.


1 tablespoon


Protein, Energy, Fibre, Calcium, Other minerals


Small amounts


Vegetable oil
Flaxseed, hemp seed or rape seed oil, used cold; olive oil or rape seed oil for cooking



1 teaspoon per portion


Energy, Vitamin E (oils), Vitamin A & D (fortified margarine), Essential Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fats (flaxseed, soya, walnut, hemp)


At least 1


B12 Fortified Foods
eg fortified soya milk, Vitamin B12
fortified breakfast cereal, yeast extract (eg Marmite)

Or B12 supplement


Vitamin B12

1-2 litre of water per day (at least eight glasses) should also be consumed as part of a healthy, balanced diet. Tea, especially herbal teas, can be counted as water.

Research shows that results in diabetics who follow a low-fat, wholefood, vegan diet are better than any single drug can produce (Barnard, 2007).

A plant-based diet not only helps with the management of diabetes but is also extremely effective in reducing the common complications associated with it – cardiovascular disease, raised cholesterol, kidney and eye complications. Plant-based means no cholesterol, no animal protein and only a little saturated fat, which puts less strain on the kidneys, can help the heart work better and cuts down the risk of cancer.

A review of 11 scientific papers on diabetes and diets based around high-fibre foods and carbohydrates showed, in every study, that diet can improve blood sugar control and cholesterol levels (Anderson et al., 1987). These findings support a more recent large population study which examined the relationship between dietary factors, insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome (McKeown et al., 2004). It revealed that the greater the intake of high-fibre, whole grain foods with a low GI, the lower the incidence of insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome.

Wholegrains are rich in complex carbohydrates, pulses are high in protein and all have a low GI. Virtually all vegetables have a low GI and contain many essential vitamins and minerals, as well as cancer fighting antioxidants.

It is a common misconception that because fruits are sweet, they should be avoided by diabetics. In fact, nearly all fruits have a low GI, the only exceptions being watermelon and pineapple. Moreover, they are rich in antioxidants and contain a wealth of vitamins and minerals.

Important note on grapefruit: grapefruit or grapefruit juice can influence the effects of some medications (Saito et al., 2005). For example, they can increase the blood concentration of some blood pressure and cholesterol lowering drugs, antihistamines and some psychiatric medications. If you are on any kind of medication, it is necessary to consult your doctor on
how grapefruit might affect you.

To ensure sufficient intake of essential omega-3 fats, natural sources should be made part of a daily diet – flaxseed (linseed), hempseed, walnuts and their oils and rapeseed oil. Nevertheless, the body requires only small amounts of these oils, so the low-fat rule still applies, even to these ‘good’ fats.

A vegan diet based on these principles is the healthiest possible, however, there is a need for vitamin B12 supplementation either in the form of food supplements or enriched foods, such as soya milk or margarines. This requirement is not solely vegan-specific as B12 supplementation is recommended for all people over the age of 50. B12 requirements may be also higher in diabetics as the commonly taken drug, Metformin, can reduce absorption of this vitamin (Diabetes UK, 2008).

The nutritional adequacy of a well-planned, vegetarian or vegan diet has been consistently confirmed. As the latest review concluded (Craig, 2010) – a vegetarian diet, including fortified foods, is nutritionally suitable for adults and children and promotes better health. The same review states that vegetarians have lower body weight, total and LDL (bad) cholesterol, blood pressure, reduced rates of deaths from heart disease; and decreased incidence of high blood pressure, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers.

A review which focused specifically on diabetes diets (Anderson et al., 2004) came to the conclusion that nutritional therapy is essential for the successful treatment of diabetes and that the most effective diabetes diet is a high carbohydrate, high fibre and low-fat diet, emphasising whole grains, vegetables, fruits, pulses and low GI foods, and soya protein.