7 Food Principles That Prevent & Reverse Diabetes

Do you get confused about what is the right food to eat to prevent diseases? If you have diabetes, do you find yourself receiving a lot of conflicting advice about what to eat and what not? And nothing seems to help?

Every year, SHARAN holds a 21 day retreat for disease reversal in Swaswara, Karnataka and I am privileged to have been a part of these since 2012. Here, many diabetics stabilise their blood sugars, reduce medicines and come off their medications including insulin!

Simply through food… natural, organic, plant-based, whole foods.

This is a system inspired by Dr. Neal Barnard, M.D. from PCRM U.S. and adopted in India by Dr. Nandita Shah of SHARAN. The best part of the programme is that I get to enjoy these glorious, tasty foods.

The main principle of this retreat is that our body and nature can work miracles to heal us if we just let it!

Here are 7 food principles that can help reverse diabetes* and many other diseases like high blood pressure, high cholesterol etc.

1. Fresh Fruits Everyday

Yes, you read it right! We feasted on fresh tropical fruits every morning and whenever anyone wanted to skip a meal and have fruits instead, it was encouraged. Yes, even diabetics could eat unlimited quantities of mangoes, bananas, chickoos, jackfruit practically, ANY fruit.

Since whole fruit has fibre and healthier sugars than refined sugars, these are actually beneficial for everyone because fruits are loaded with vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and anti-oxidants.

Tropical Fruit Plate


2. Raw and semi-cooked salads – Lots of them

We Indians are poor at incorporating a variety of salads into our meals.  At this retreat, there are minimum 3 salads served at every lunch and dinner.  People are encouraged to load up their plate with salads first.  Eat as much as they want and then eat some cooked food if necessary.

The fabulous display and choices of mouthwatering salads had most of us ignoring the cooked section altogether at many a meal!  Part of the secret to making raw salads exciting to spend some time to learn some recipes and make them look fabulous!

Salads of Swaswara- Chef Joy’s Rainbow Salad, Beetroot Lace Salad and Pumpkin with Black Rice Salad


3. Whole Foods vs. Refined Foods

One of the keys to reversing diabetes is to ditch all the refined foods and substitute them with whole foods. So, at this retreat, we used brown and red rice instead of white, date paste instead of sugar and wholewheat instead of white flour. We also used no oil and used nuts and seeds used for oil to flavour our food int their whole form.

Most of the participants were blown away with how good, fresh and light food can taste without using a single drop of oil!

Oil Free Whole Food


4. Plant-based vs. Animal Foods

The next most import an key is to avoid animal foods completely!  No meat, fish, eggs, honey or dairy! Yes, that means – no milk, butter, cheese, cream, yogurt etc. made from animal milks. And yet, we had all these and more made from plant-based sources. We had peanut curds, chhaach, curd rice, fruit based ice-creams, coconut and peanut flavoured salads and dishes, even a cheese cake made from cashews. The possibilities are endless.

To learn more you can visit the Recipes pages at SHARAN or join us for a cooking class near you or come for our next 21 day retreat.  Here is some chickoo ice-cream.  Slurrrrp!

You can have your (vegan) ice-cream and eat it too!


5. Millets as indigenous grains vs. wheat or white rice

It is a sad reality that due to over commercialisation of wheat and rice, these 2 grains have overtaken our kitchen and the indigenous grains also called millets have been marginalised. Whereas millets are rich in nutrition, inexpensive and better for the environment as they do not require much irrigation.

Some of the millets we used regularly are: pearl millet (bajra), sorghum (jowar), foxtail millet and finger millet (ragi).  Here is a cook making us some millet bhakris or missi rotis.

A Swaswara Cook Making Millet Bhakri or Rotis


6. Green Leafy Vegetables

Green leaves are the highest nutrition foods on the planet! The way to incorporate these is in green smoothies, chutneys and salads and we had them all!

Green Vegetables

7. Organic vs. Pesticide Food

There is data to suggest that the pesticide content of conventionally grown foods can be one of the causes of diabetes.  It is also linked to cancer and hormone disruption diseases like thyroid and PCOD.  At Swaswara, we enjoyed natural organic foods and found the flavours delicious and unforgettable!


You can find out about our next retreat and more about how to reverse diabetes, by visiting  Please let me know if this article was useful to you.

* Type 2 or adult onset diabetes is the most common food related illness. This system works extremely well to reverse that. It is also found effective in many cases of Type 1 diabetes. For more information contact Dr. Nandita Shah at

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Comments 10

  1. Khushboo Gupta
    July 30, 2014

    Great info on food principles Nandini. I like the way you make concepts look simple and tempting 🙂 All the best!

    1. July 30, 2014

      Thanks for stopping by Khushboo and also subscribing. Keep giving me feedback for improving and also what you and your friends would like to read about.


  2. sadhna kohli
    November 11, 2014

    really liked ur work and efforts towards healthy living and m surprised at the wonderfully healthy spread of deserts and other dishes without animal products in them Would like to b part of your updates,recipes and ur accompalishments thanx with your efforts u r not only going to make huge difference but also educate ppl who are ignorant about this .

    1. November 11, 2014

      Thanks so much Sadhna. Please sign up by filling the short and simple form on the right hand side of the pages in the blog and you will receive periodic emails. Best Regards, Nandini

  3. Rajesh
    March 10, 2016

    Really appreciate your article

    1. admin
      March 10, 2016

      Thank you!

  4. Prasad
    March 20, 2016

    Hats off to your efforts to create awareness
    Sounds very simple to reverse the diabetes by eating àbove mentioned foods but practically very difficult as to prepare these items for one or two persons in a family is very difficult. Cannot mobilise the resources to procure these item

    1. admin
      March 24, 2016

      It is actually good for all members of the family. Start with replacing one or two things or just adding more fruit and using less animal products and oil. Even a small start may give you some results that would encourage you to try more! All the best. Check out my Healthy Cooking Basics email course on my Programs page.

  5. Naveen Jain
    May 21, 2016

    Excellent work . We can actually lead a decease free life .

    1. admin
      May 27, 2016

      Absolutely. 75% of people die from diseases that are preventable and lifestyle diseases. Isn’t that tragic?

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