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Starchy vegetables should be limited in the first phase of this diabetes-reversal program. For maximizing weight loss, the trick is to use beans as your primary starch source and only one other serving a day of a non-bean starchy food like beets, carrots, peas, and squashes. If you’re eating a one-cup serving of a starchy whole grain, such as oatmeal, steel-cut oats, or wild rice with breakfast, do not eat the starchy vegetable option with dinner.

The amount of starchy vegetables varies with body weight and exercise habits. Slim people who do not have diabetes and exercise a lot can have more starches, and more seeds and nuts, to meet their higher caloric needs. For overweight diabetics, these are more limited foods. Colorful cooked starchy vegetables such as beets, carrots, corn, and butternut and winter squashes can be eaten in small amounts with dinner. High-starch foods made from flour, rice, or white potatoes are even more limited in the recommended diabetic menu. It’s preferable to eliminate them from your diet until you’re completely off insulin and sulfonylureas.

Phase one of this program is for people coming off insulin and other diabetes medications, so that occurs as quickly as possible, because in most cases, the more medications you require, the more weight loss is hindered. If you follow your blood sugar closely, with physician monitoring, the medications can be reduced and in many cases eliminated. During phase one, I recommend no highstarch vegetables or grains. Instead it is better to get your carbohydrate and calorie requirements from cauliflower and beans. That way you will be utilizing only the starchy foods that have a low GL and that are high in resistant starch. Make use of the non-starchy cooked vegetables and tofu to prepare filling, low-calorie stews. Eggplant, tomatoes, onions, garlic, mushrooms, peppers, beans, and zucchini form the base of these dishes.

No sweetened drinks of any type are permitted, even artificially sweetened. Even no-calorie sweeteners can stimulate the pancreas to work. No fruit juice. Vegetable juice can be used as part of the soup base—dilute it with water. Drinking only water and eating whole foods are strongly recommended. In general, drinking our calories is unfavorable for diabetics.

Dried fruit, such as raisins, are limited to a minimal amount, usually only as a flavor enhancer as a small part of the recipe in a breakfast dish, soup, or vegetable dish.

Seeds and nuts are limited to one to two ounces daily, depending on weight and activity level— usually a one-ounce limit for overweight women and a 1.5 ounce limit for overweight males. Seeds like raw sunflower, chia, hemp, raw unhulled sesame, and pumpkin seeds are great choices and even preferred over raw nuts, as they are higher in nutrients and have beneficial fatty acid profiles. A half of an avocado is permitted occasionally on a salad or with a dip, but make sure the seeds and nuts do not exceed one ounce when you’re also using the half avocado.

Refined flour products, bread, white rice, processed cold cereals, and white potatoes are not allowed in these menus, as these foods are not recommended on a regular basis. Nor do these menus and recipes contain added salt, oil, or sweeteners of any kind.

Whole milk, cheese, butter, and red meat are not recommended. These foods should only be considered on special occasions or holidays. Nonfat dairy products could be used as a flavoring in small amounts once or, occasionally, twice a week. However, they are not missed and can easily be replaced in recipes with almond or hemp milk and other nondairy alternatives. Blending a half-cup of raw almonds and hulled hemp seeds with three cups of water in a high-powered blender makes simple milk when a recipe calls for that.

Animal products in general should be limited to a small amount of fish once a week and then only one other small serving of non-fish white meat per week. No eggs, meat, or cheese.

Usually, you can still achieve good results with a small amount of animal products such as one ounce of turkey, scallops, shrimp, or chicken to flavor a soup, stew, or stir-fry. Many people feel more satisfied when they are allowed to have even this small amount of their animal product allotment divided up as a condiment to flavor dishes. Instead of eating one four-ounce serving a week, they split it up over several meals.

Some recipes in my menu plans are used twice in the same day or as leftovers the next day. This is done intentionally because when you prepare a dish, it makes sense to reduce your workload and make enough for at least two meals. Many people choose to use a prepared dish for two to three days to save time and cooking efforts. My family cooks huge amounts of food and eats leftovers for a few days. That way we only have to prepare food two days a week. Experiment to find out what works best for you.

With the removal of potato, rice, and flour products, and the restriction on nuts and seeds to one ounce daily, you may need to add more beans to reach your caloric needs. Greens, beans, fruit, nuts, seeds, tofu, and the low-calorie vegetables listed above supply the major volume of calories in the diet. Nuts and fruits somewhat less, of course. Spaghetti squash and cauliflower are permissible substitutions for higher-starch, higher-calorie grains and potatoes. Turnips, parsnips, and other squashes are alternatives to rice, bread, and potatoes and are a better, more nutrient- and fiber-rich choice. Grains should be whole and intact when cooked in water. Whole grains such as brown and black rice, barley, quinoa, and steel-cut oats or old-fashioned oatmeal are ideal examples; nevertheless, they are best avoided in phase one and limited to a one-cup serving or less per day in phase two. Most of my preferred diabetic-reversal menus have such grains only a few times per week.

Always wash fresh fruit and vegetables thoroughly. Buy organic if possible. Always buy organic strawberries, spinach, and celery, as these three items are the most pesticide-contaminated foods in the produce section.