How to Reverse Diabetes: 5 Simple Food Swaps to Help Prevent Diabetes

Michelle Routhenstein, MS, RD, CDE


January 19, 2018

Originally posted on, here.

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1) Choose Collard Green Wrap Instead of a White Flour Bread or Tortilla

A white tortilla wrap has at least 10x the amount of carbohydrates than a Collard Green Wrap! Collard Greens also are abundant in Vitamins A, C and E – three vitamins often lacking in diabetic patients.

To make collard green wraps, bring 5 cups of water to a simmer. Cut the stem at the base and trim the spine of the collard off each of the middle leaves. Set a large bowl with two dozen ice cubes and water aside. Place the leaves one at a time in the simmering water for 30 seconds. Carefully, with a pair of tongs, remove the leaves from the hot water and place each of them into the ice bath for at least 10 seconds. Take the leaf and pat dry with a paper towel.

If you aren’t in the mood to give your collard greens a bath, consider looking for it at restaurants. Restaurants such as Bareburger have followed the health trend and offer collard green wraps in lieu of bread!

2) Choose Water instead of Diet Coke

In the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, a study looked at how artificial sweeteners work in the brain and body. Since artificial sweeteners are sweet but they do not provide a caloric input they do not completely satisfy the brain and body’s desire for the sweet food, therefore they encourage sugar cravings and sugar dependence. This can cause you to actually look for real sugar in the form of candy and sweets later in the day.

Skip the diet coke and opt for water instead. You can flavor the water with cucumbers, mint and lemon for a refreshing drink or if you are seeking the bubbles, consider carbonated water.

3) Choose Oatmeal Chia Pudding Instead of Refined Cereals for Breakfast

Studies have shown that consuming whole grains instead of refined cereals can help in the prevention of both diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Whole grains have soluble fiber that help lower blood sugar levels and bad cholesterol (LDL) by slowing the absorption of sugar and by binding bad cholesterol for excretion. Recommended whole grains without added sugars include rolled oats, faro, and barley.

Many people complain of not having enough time in the morning to eat breakfast – but this recipe is so simple, you can make it in no time:

Warm ¾ cup of oatmeal with ½ cup organic 0-2% fat milk or almond milk in the microwave for 2 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons chia seeds, 1 teaspoon all natural almond butter or peanut butter, and 1 cup berries . Mix and enjoy!

4) Choose Broccoli Rice or Cauliflower Rice Instead of White Rice

Not only do Broccoli rice and Cauliflower rice each have more than 5x the amount of vitamins, minerals, fiber and nutrients than refined white rice – they are 150 less calories and 39gm less carbohydrates than white rice!

White rice will cause a high spike in your blood sugar levels and will leave you hungry 10-15 minutes later. Choosing a filling and nutrient dense substitute, such as broccoli and/or cauliflower rice keeps your blood sugar levels at bay given its high fiber, low carbohydrate content. It also will help with weight control given the decrease in calorie consumption.

You can easily prepare broccoli and cauliflower by pulverizing a large head of cauliflower or broccoli in a food processor until minced texture is achieved. Then easily sauté with 1 tablespoon of avocado oil, 1 medium chopped onion and spices (I love paprika, turmeric, cumin, garlic and black pepper). Or you can skip step 1 and buy pulverized cauliflower or broccoli in stores (such as Trader Joes and Whole Foods), either in the fresh or frozen aisles.

5) Choose 15 Almonds instead of 10 Pretzels

Almonds are a high source of Magnesium which plays a key role in assisting with proper blood sugar uptake and regulation in the body. A meta-analysis (a method of systematically combining studies to develop a conclusion that has greater statistical power) involving 536,318 participants detected a significant association between high magnesium intake and lower risk of type 2 diabetes.

1) Dong JY, Xun P, He K, Quin LQ. Magnesium intake and risk of type 2 diabetes: meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. Diabetes Care. 2011 Sep;34(9):2116-22.
2) Liu S. Intake of refined carbohydrates and whole grain foods in relation to risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus and coronary heart disease. J Am Coll Nutr. 2002 Aug;21(4):298-306.
3) Valdés-Ramos R, Ana Laura G-L, Elina M-CB, Donají B-AA. Vitamins and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. Endocrine, Metabolic & Immune Disorders Drug Targets. 2015;15(1):54-63.
4) Yang Q. Gain weight by “going diet?” Artificial sweeteners and the neurobiology of sugar cravings: Neuroscience 2010. The Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine. 2010;83(2):101-108.

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