What To Eat on an Insulin Resistance Diet

The question of what to eat on an Insulin Resistance Diet was the first thing that popped into my head after the basic meal plan was explained to me. Lean fish, meat, chicken were the obvious choice but what about the rest?


Fish – Photo © http://www.insulinresistancerecipes.com

The Insulin Resistance Diet that was prescribed to me allows the following:

Vegetables – Eat Your Greens, Well Not All Greens…
You can choose from the following: broccoli, broccolini, zucchini, eggplant, carrots, capsicum, celery, cucumber, lettuce, tomato, onion, shallot, leeks, green beans, asparagus, bok choy, choy sum, snow peas, mushrooms, bean sprouts, alfalfa sprouts, rhubarb, leeks, chives and if you can stomach them, you can have cauliflower, Brussel sprouts and cabbage.

At first it seems limiting but there’s enough variety here to make a meal tasty and not just palatable.

Sauces, Condiments and Hello Flavour
Most supermarket bought sauces and condiments have sugar added or used as a preservative so I have taken to checking the label when I’m shopping.

The list includes soy sauce, fish sauce, oyster sauce (I’m already thinking of Asian style dishes), tomato paste, a whiff of vinegar, lemon/lime juice, mustard and Worcestershire sauce.

The Spices of Life
I was relieved to learn that most of the herbs and spices I use are allowed such as garlic, thyme, oregano, bouquet garni, basil, rosemary, ginger, chilli, turmeric, nutmeg, pepper and paprika.

The list I was given reads like a hospital menu sheet so I will spare you that. You can have clear soups, miso soup, stock cubes and vegetable soup made from the allowed list above.

Non-Alcoholic Drinks
We know we are supposed to drink at least 2 litres a day but I find it difficult to imbibe even half of that in summer. Tea, coffee, herb tea and water will become your best friends. A little tomato juice is allowed, about 1/4 of a cup but make sure you buy a brand that has no added sugar.

For the first time ever in my life, I was told not to eat fruit. It’s all concentrated sugar. Usually, a limited selection of berries is allowed like strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries and the odd passionfruit.

In case you’re wondering what you can eat for dessert, the answer is… nothing.

What About Artificial Sweeteners and Diet Products?
The diet allows for artificial sweeteners, and products made with them such as diet jelly, diet cordial, diet soft drink (really?) and so on. My preference is to go without the artificial flavour and compound elements that give the illusion of sweetness with a bitter aftertaste.

Hang on… what about Dairy?
Diary has been my beef with this diet. I don’t drink milk and I don’t like yoghurt or the natural Greek style yoghurts much. My calcium intake has always come from eating cheese. Brie, Blue Cheese and Vintage Cheddar are among my favourites. But cheese has a high fat (and cholesterol content to those counting) and I was advised not to eat it.

Osteoporosis runs in my family so I was not prepared to give up cheese altogether while on this diet. After pleading with my specialist, I was allowed to eat 25g of cheese a day as an afternoon snack. You’ll be reacquainted with your neglected kitchen scales.

Other Exclusions – Wait… there’s more?
We know that we are to reduce/cut down on carbs significantly from our diet. That means no white bread, pasta, rice, noodles, potatoes, pumpkin and sweet potatoes, kumera, and turnips, and the sweet sweet satisfaction that comes from such pleasures. But did you know that corn, peas and beetroot are also out?

Add a bean mix, cannellini beans, red kidney beans, chickpeas, hommus, quinoa, and lentils (a very limited quantity of lentils on the odd occasion) to the restricted list, and take a deep breath.

And now for the steak knives…
It’s not the end of the world but I looked at it as a chance to go through the pantry and the fridge and sort out what to eat. Planning my meals one week in advance makes it easier to stick to it, particularly when shopping for fresh ingredients.

All that was left was to put the plans into action and do the best to reverse insulin resistance.

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  14. I love your website. I wondered though about fats? There are a lot of articles promoting the use of coconut oil and natural fats like butter in place of margarines and vegetable oils like canola oil, corn oil, sunflower oil. What advice have you been given about using fats? I notice you like poached eggs rather than a fried egg (in a teaspoon of coconut oil) on sourdough bread for breakfast. Why are you not allowed fats? They don’t raise you blood sugars and he,p to satisfy your appetite?

    • Thank you for the kinds words, Hannah. With insulin resistance, my specialist wanted me to lower fat intake not just to aid in weight loss, but because fat cells make the body more insulin resistant. For example, he said not to eat avocadoes even though they have good fats. If you notice throughout the recipes, I use 1 tablespoon of oil between 2 persons. I have cut out any butter and margarine (processed food) and frankly I don’t miss them. As for other natural fats you mention, a lot has been written about them particularly with the paleo diet. Insulin Resistance Diet isn’t about giving up carbs in favour of fat. Let’s face it, most of us with the condition are at least a little over our recommended weight so the more fat we cut out from the diet, the more chance we have of becoming less insulin resistant.

      I’ve had lots of discussions with my specialist about it, and he even wanted to limit my cheese intake due to the fat content. But I argued that osteo runs in my family and he allowed about 10-20 g daily… which is nothing. Re the eggs, I don’t always poach them due to time constraints but I microwave them which is the same. I now find fried eggs too greasy. Amazing what your palate gets used to, and in a good way.

      I’m no expert but I’m happy to share my experiences and what has worked for me. If it helps one person even in the slightest way, then it’s worth it :)

  15. Hi There

    Thank you for your reply. I think your Specialist is right about fats. I am trying to reduce my weight and most importantly my stomach size. I never had this apple shape when I was younger. I think my love of carbs and starch in all it forms has contributed to this. But, your website is very useful and lowering your carbs and fat intake is probably the most sensible approach I’ve seen so far. Thank you for sharing it with us.

    • Thanks Hannah, glad to be of help and good luck with this new lifestyle. It’s hard work but it pays off :)

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  17. aussiebushgirl

    Hi there. I get hopelessly lost around weekly meal planners – especially since I’m catering to GF, IBS, Hypthyroidism, Lactose Intolerance needs. Almost all recipes I have to tweak to get right for my particular needs, e.g. no onions or garlic for thyroid; no legumes, cruciferous veggies or cucumbers for IBS; no wheat, pasta or grains for GF; and LF milk.
    Are you able to put up some sample meal plan menus that you follow on a weekly basis as I’m sure this will help get some of us needies on track!
    Thanks heaps! ~ heather x

    • Hi Heather, I’ve been meaning to put together one for some time but never got around to it. Work is intense at the moment (hence the lack of recent posts) but I will aim to share my meal plan in the near future :)

  18. aussiebushgirl

    Hi again. I was just reading about the osteoporosis health issues in your family. Did you know you can replace cheese with gelatin, which comes in many forms? I only recently found this out myself, given my own issues with lactose intolerance. There are a lot of great “bone broth” recipes and such out there which may interest you. The Holistic Squid has a good beef broth on her blog! ~ heather :D

  19. I have been given suggested a diet based on insulin resistance because I have PCOS. Just curious, I was told to have 3 pieces of fruit a day -certain ones. You say not to have any… Do you know of any reason this may differ? This is all so new and confusing! :)

    • Hi Natalie. I’m not very familiar with the PCOS diet but there are many similarities to the IR diet. With insulin resistance, the body can’t metabolise sugar and carbs well (including the sugars in fruit) and they turn to fat. The only “fruit” I was told I could eat is in fact berries, such as raspberries, strawberries. Which fruit are you allowed to eat?

  20. I am fighting with losing weight, thyroid, insulin resistance, but my cholesterol and good cholesterol is all good. How in the world do I begin to figure out what to eat? Right now I am on a diet of fresh, organic vegetables, greens, beans, fish, white chicken, eggs, olive oil in very small quantities, gallons of water, and about a cup of fresh organic fruit a day. I am losing weight, but slowly. I even have some cheese occasionally, otherwise I use no other dairy. I am not fond of yogurt, milk and the like. I eat no pastas, breads, rice, grits of any kind, other than a sweet potato occasionally Based upon what you have written, I fell like I have so many battles to fight that I might as well quit eating…I don’t know what to eat. I am feeling very discouraged. Any ideas which problem I should tackle first…the old divide and conquer plan? Which condition do I concentrate on first?.

    • Hi Beth and sorry to hear of your struggles. What you’re eating sounds good for IR with the exception of fruit as it’s laden with sugar which then converts to fat – that’s based on my doctor’s advice. I’m not that familiar with thyroid problems and the impact that has on IR or even in general. Do you exercise by any chance, and if so, do you see any results? Also, in my experience, stress levels and lack of proper sleep don’t help at all with weight loss.

      Please don’t give up. It takes little steps and a LOT of patience and time before you see results. It will slowly start to happen. :)

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