The Mediterranean Diet for Diabetes


Q: Can diet or exercise really prevent diabetes? (Excerpt from Common Questions About Diabetes)

A: Yes, exercising and eating a healthy diet helps you keep off excess weight, which can prevent or at least delay diabetes. If you already have diabetes, doing aerobic exercise and resistance training helps by encouraging the muscles to take up more blood sugar.

Over the short term, it may even reduce the amount of blood-sugar-lowering medication you need to take. Long term, exercise helps lower the risk of complications like blindness and nerve and kidney damage by helping you better manage blood-sugar levels. On the diet front, a recent study found that type 2 diabetics who ate a Mediterranean diet, which is rich in fish, fruits, nuts, and olive oil, lost more weight and went longer without blood-sugar-lowering medication than those on a low-fat diet.

Here is the Mediterranean Diet

Sample Menu
Here’s a day of typical meals on a 1,500-calorie Mediterranean diet from Old ways.

6 ounces Greek yogurt topped with 1/2 cup strawberries and 1 teaspoon honey
1 slice whole-grain toast with half mashed avocado

1 whole-grain pita with 2 tablespoons hummus and stuffed with 1 cup fresh greens and 2 slices tomatoes
1 cup minestrone soup
1 medium orange
Water with 1 lemon wedge

1/8 cup sliced almonds
1/8 cup peanuts


• 1/2 cup arugula
• 1/2 cup baby spinach
• 1 tablespoon shaved Parmesan cheese
• 1 tablespoon vinaigrette dressing

3-ounce salmon topped with 1 teaspoon tarragon and 1 teaspoon mustard over 1/2 cup couscous, 1/2 cup zucchini and 4 spears asparagus
5 fluid ounces red wine (optional)

Small bunch grapes
1/2 cup lemon sorbet

How does Mediterranean Diet work?


Do: Load up on whole grains and veggies.

It depends – there isn’t “a” Mediterranean diet. Greeks eat differently from Italians, who eat differently from the French and Spanish. But they share many of the same principles. Working with the Harvard School of Public Health, Old ways, a nonprofit food think tank in Boston, developed a consumer-friendly Mediterranean diet pyramid that emphasizes eating fruits, veggies, whole grains, beans, nuts, legumes, olive oil, and flavorful herbs and spices; fish and seafood at least a couple of times a week; and poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt in moderation, while saving sweets and red meat for special occasions. Top it off with a splash of red wine (if you want), remember to stay physically active and you’re set.

Because this is an eating pattern – not a structured diet – you’re on your own to figure out how many calories you should eat to lose or maintain your weight, what you’ll do to stay active and how you’ll shape your Mediterranean menu.


How Eating Your Veggies Saves You Money
Like most aspects of the diet, it depends. While some ingredients (olive oil, nuts, fish and fresh produce in particular) can be expensive, you can find ways to keep the tab reasonable – especially if you’re replacing red meats and meals with plant-based home cooking, some research suggests. Your shopping choices matter, too