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Diabetes Food Basics

A healthy diabetic diet is your best strategy for blood sugar and weight control.

Your diet is a key part of your diabetes-management plan. The food you eat can help you regulate your blood sugar, maintain or move toward a healthy weight, and meet your treatment goals. Like any smart eating plan, a diabetic diet embraces a wide range of delicious fare -- lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and legumes, low-fat dairy, fish, and more. If you plan your meals right, there's even room for dessert.

Work with your dietician to create a personal plan that is manageable, helps you meet your targets, and accommodates your personal food preferences. If a registered dietician isn't part of your diabetes healthcare team, talk to your nurse-educator or doctor to recommend a nutrition specialist.

Dietary advice should be tailored to each individual, but general guidelines for diabetes management include the following recommendations:

Dietary Recommendations for Diabetes

Carbohydrates
Monitoring your carbohydrates is a key part of diabetes nutrition therapy and blood sugar control. Aim to get about 45 grams to 60 grams of carbohydrates at each meal, and opt for mostly complex carbs, such as fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. They slowly release glucose into your bloodstream to keep your blood sugar stable.

Protein
Aim to get 15% to 20% of your calories from protein.

Fat
Unsaturated fats (e.g., olive oil, nuts, fish, avocados) are good for you and can help you meet your diabetes goals. Make those your go-to fats. Limit saturated fats (e.g., butter, cream, beef) to less than 7% of total calories. Avoid trans fats (check food labels) altogether.

Fiber
Fiber recommendations for people with diabetes are the same as those for the general population. Aim to get at least 25 grams of fiber a day from a variety of sources, including whole grains, vegetables, fruit, and legumes.

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