It includes sample meals for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. The entire day's worth of food adds up to around 1,400 calories, with about 50 percent of calories from carbohydrates (this can be reduced if your blood sugars are too high). It's a great jumping off point for planning future meals. Just keep in mind that you'll need to rejigger it if your doctor recommends you eat a different number of calories—1,200, say, or 2,200 each day.
As for packaging, frozen veggies without sauce are just as nutritious as fresh, and even low-sodium canned veggies can be a good choice if you’re in a pinch. Just be sure to watch your sodium intake to avoid high blood pressure, and consider draining and rinsing salted canned veggies before eating, per the ADA. If possible, opt for low-sodium or sodium-free canned veggies if going that route.
A 2010 study in Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism assigned 259 overweight diabetics to one of three diets: a low-carb Mediterranean diet, a traditional Mediterranean diet or a diet based on recommendations from the American Diabetes Association. All groups were told to exercise 30 to 45 minutes at least three times per week. After a year, all groups lost weight; the traditional group lost an average of about 16 pounds while the ADA group dropped 17 pounds and the low-carb group lost 22 pounds.
On the diet, you can get frozen and ready-to-eat South Beach Diet meals, along with some meals you make on your own. They also encourage you to buy South Beach Diet–branded snacks. The upside is that they’ll tell you what to eat all day and there’s little cooking involved (great if you hate your kitchen); the downside is that you have to buy your food through them, and the choices can become limiting. Plus, when you’re buying packaged foods, you’re not getting the full nutritional benefit you would from eating whole foods.
If you drink alcohol, drink moderately—no more than one drink a day if you’re a woman or two drinks a day if you’re a man. If you use insulin or diabetes medicines that increase the amount of insulin your body makes, alcohol can make your blood glucose level drop too low. This is especially true if you haven’t eaten in a while. It’s best to eat some food when you drink alcohol.