Enjoy a week of plant-based meals that promote healthy blood sugars in this vegetarian meal plan for diabetes.
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Vegetarian Chopped Power Salad with Creamy Cilantro Dressing
Credit: Brie Passano

In this vegetarian plan for diabetes, we include plenty of plant-based proteins, plus fiber-packed nutrients (think legumes, fruits and vegetables and whole grains) to keep you feeling satisfied and your blood sugars—and energy levels—balanced all day long. The key to good blood sugar balance is to eat quality high-fiber carbohydrate choices (whole grains, legumes, fruit and starchy vegetables), while including a solid protein source at each meal. This combination of fiber and protein at each meal helps slow down digestion, which also slows the rate at which glucose enters your blood stream. As a result, you're less likely to experience drastic blood sugar spikes and energy swings in the short run, which has positive effects on your overall health in the long run.

Because weight loss can play a role in improving blood sugars, we set this plan at 1,500 calories per day, which is a level where most people will lose 1 to 2 pounds per week. If you have other calorie needs, we included modifications for 1,200 and 2,000 calories per day.

Health Benefits of a Vegetarian Diet

Eating a balanced vegetarian diet has its share of health benefits. People who eat more plant-based foods are more likely to hit their daily fiber goals, which is a powerhouse nutrient that most of us are skimping out on. Likely related to increased fiber intake, people who focus on plant-based proteins tend to have better blood sugars, lower body weights, improved heart health and even a lower risk of certain cancers. Interested in eating more plant-based foods but unsure if you want to take the vegetarian plunge? The flexitarian diet is a great option and you'll still reap the health benefits by increasing plant-based foods.

Vegetarian Foods to Focus on for Diabetes

Include plenty of protein, high fiber foods and healthy fats to maximize your health and stabilize blood sugars

  • Beans and lentils
  • Nuts and seeds, including natural nut butters (look for options with no added sugar)
  • Yogurt
  • Kefir
  • Cheese
  • Cottage cheese
  • Tofu
  • Seitan
  • Tempeh
  • Edamame
  • Flax, hemp and chia seeds
  • Eggs
  • Whole grains (oats, quinoa, bulgur, barley, sprouted bread)
  • Vegetables, especially dark leafy greens
  • Fruits, particularly berries and fruit with skin (such as apples and pears)
  • Olives and olive oil
  • Avocado

How to Meal-Prep Your Week of Meals:

  1. Make Muffin-Tin Omelets with Bell Pepper, Black Beans & Jack Cheese to have for breakfast throughout the week.
  2. Prepare Vegan Kale Caesar Salad with Tofu Croutons to have for lunch on Days 2 through 5.
  3. Make Maple Granola to have throughout the week.

Day 1

Charred Vegetable & Bean Tostadas with Lime Crema

Breakfast (329 calories, 30g carbohydrate)

  • 1 cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup raspberries
  • 1 serving Maple Granola

A.M. Snack (206 calories, 7g carbohydrate)

  • ¼ cup dry-roasted unsalted almonds

Lunch (304 calories, 40g carbohydrate)

P.M. Snack (187 calories, 11g carbohydrate)

  • ¾ cup low-fat plain kefir
  • 8 dried walnut halves

Dinner (476 calories, 48g carbohydrate)

Daily Totals: 1,502 calories, 80g protein, 137g carbohydrate, 34g fiber, 77g fat, 1,386mg sodium

To Make it 1,200 Calories: Change A.M. snack to 1/4 cup blueberries and omit the walnuts at P.M. snack.

To Make it 2,000 Calories: Add 1 medium apple with 1 1/2 Tbsp. natural peanut butter to lunch, increase to 15 dried walnut halves at P.M. snack plus add 1/2 an avocado, sliced, to dinner.

Day 2

southwestern muffin tin omelets

Breakfast (268 calories, 36g carbohydrate)

A.M. Snack (200 calories, 18g carbohydrate)

  • 1 cup edamame, in pods

Lunch (405 calories, 19g carbohydrate)

P.M. Snack (187 calories, 14g carbohydrate)

  • 1 cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup blueberries

Dinner (453 calories, 37g carbohydrate)

Daily Totals: 1,512 calories, 84g protein, 125g carbohydrate, 39g fiber, 80g fat, 1,571mg sodium

To Make it 1,200 Calories: Change A.M. snack to 1 peach and omit yogurt at P.M. snack.

To Make it 2,000 Calories: Add 1 medium apple with 2 Tbsp. natural peanut butter to lunch and add 1/4 cup dry-roasted unsalted almonds to P.M. snack.

Day 3

roasted-chickpea-curry-bowl

Breakfast (268 calories, 36g carbohydrate)

A.M. Snack (126 calories, 16g carbohydrate)

  • 1 cup low-fat plain kefir
  • ¼ cup raspberries

Lunch (405 calories, 19g carbohydrate)

P.M. Snack (200 calories, 18g carbohydrate)

  • 1 cup edamame, in pods

Dinner (485 calories, 47g carbohydrate)

Daily Totals: 1,484 calories, 76g protein, 136g carbohydrate, 40g fiber, 75g fat, 1,769mg sodium

To Make it 1,200 Calories: Reduce to 1/3 cup edamame in pods at P.M. snack and omit mixed greens with Citrus Vinaigrette at dinner.

To Make it 2,000 Calories: Add 1/4 cup dry-roasted unsalted almonds to A.M. snack and add 1 medium apple with 2 Tbsp. natural peanut butter to lunch.

Day 4

greek-salad-with-edamame.jpeg

Breakfast (329 calories, 30g carbohydrate)

  • 1 cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup raspberries
  • 1 serving Maple Granola

A.M. Snack (223 calories, 8g carbohydrate)

  • 2 medium stalks celery
  • 2 Tbsp. natural peanut butter

Lunch (405 calories, 19g carbohydrate)

P.M. Snack (114 calories, 15g carbohydrate)

  • 1 cup blackberries
  • 4 dried walnut halves

Dinner (439 calories, 40g carbohydrate)

Daily Totals: 1,510 calories, 77g protein, 114g carbohydrate, 34g fiber, 86g fat, 1,423mg sodium

To Make it 1,200 Calories: Change A.M. snack to 1 plum and omit baguette at dinner.

To Make it 2,000 Calories: Increase to 3 stalks celery and 2 1/2 Tbsp. natural peanut butter at A.M. snack, add 1 large pear to lunch, increase to 20 dried walnut halves at P.M. snack plus swap 1 serving Everything Bagel Avocado Toast for the baguette at dinner.

Day 5

vegan kale caesar

Breakfast (268 calories, 36g carbohydrate)

A.M. Snack (200 calories, 18g carbohydrate)

  • 1 cup edamame, in pods

Lunch (405 calories, 19g carbohydrate)

P.M. Snack (168 calories, 26g carbohydrate)

  • 1 cup low-fat plain kefir
  • 1 medium peach

Dinner (458 calories, 47g carbohydrate)

Meal-Prep Tip: reserve two servings Quinoa-Black Bean Salad to have for lunch on days 6 & 7

Daily Totals: 1,500 calories, 76g protein, 146g carbohydrate, 37g fiber, 72g fat, 1,393mg sodium

To Make it 1,200 Calories: change A.M. snack to 1 plum and omit kefir at P.M. snack

To Make it 2,000 Calories: add 1 medium apple with 2 Tbsp. natural peanut butter to lunch and add 1/4 cup dry-roasted unsalted almonds to P.M. snack

Day 6

Black-Bean Quinoa Buddha Bowl

Breakfast (268 calories, 36g carbohydrate)

A.M. Snack (145 calories, 12g carbohydrate)

  • 3/4 cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup blueberries

Lunch (458 calories, 47g carbohydrate)

P.M. Snack (99 calories, 11g carbohydrate)

  • ¾ cup blackberries
  • 4 dried walnut halves

Dinner (541 calories, 41g carbohydrate)

Daily Totals: 1,512 calories, 70g protein, 147g carbohydrate, 30g fiber, 78g fat, 1,140mg sodium

To Make it 1,200 Calories: Omit pear at breakfast, omit yogurt at A.M. snack and change P.M. snack to 1 plum.

To Make it 2,000 Calories: Add 1/4 cup dry-roasted unsalted almonds to A.M. snack and add 1 medium apple with 2 Tbsp. natural peanut butter to lunch.

Day 7

Vegetarian Chopped Power Salad with Creamy Cilantro Dressing
Credit: Brie Passano

Breakfast (329 calories, 30g carbohydrate)

  • 1 cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup raspberries
  • 1 serving Maple Granola

A.M. Snack (200 calories, 18g carbohydrate)

  • 1 cup edamame, in pods

Lunch (458 calories, 47g carbohydrate)

P.M. Snack (154 calories, 5g carbohydrate)

  • 20 dry-roasted unsalted almonds

Dinner (362 calories, 38g carbohydrate)

Daily Totals: 1,503 calories, 74g protein, 139g carbohydrate, 34g fiber, 75g fat, 1,025mg sodium

To Make it 1,200 Calories: Change A.M. snack to 1/4 cup blueberries and change P.M. snack to 1 plum.

To Make it 2,000 Calories: Add 1 medium apple with 2 Tbsp. natural peanut butter to lunch and add 1 serving Everything Bagel Avocado Toast to dinner.