How should I eat if I have type 2 diabetes?

Judy Caplan
Nutrition & Dietetics
The best way to eat if you have type 2 diabetes is to follow a low refined carb diet. Include plenty of vegetables, lean proteins, healthy oils, and beans. Include but limit fresh fruit. Avoid processed sweets and baked goods. Drink water, not soda. Learn the diabetic exchange lists so you know what foods fall into the carb group. Learn what one serving of carbs mean. Read labels and plan your meals so you can always eat for blood sugar control.
Laura Motosko, MSEd, RD
Nutrition & Dietetics

Choose nutrient dense whole food, high in nutrients and low in saturated fat, sodium, and sugar. Nutrient dense foods are whole grains, fruits, vegetables, healthy fats such as olive oil, proteins including lean meat, nuts, legumes, beans, soy or low fat dairy. A heart healthy diet is recommended with mono and poly unsaturated healthy fats of less than 30% of calories, including saturated fat less than 7% of calories.

A registered dietitian, diabetes educator and endocrinologist can work together to devise a individual meal plan to meet blood glucose goals. The meal plan is the amount and type of food scheduled at regular meals and snacks based on your gender, height, weight, age and health status. A diabetic meal plan is calorie controlled and has carefully planned portions of carbohydrate containing foods that directly affect blood glucose control. Sweets, fruit, grains, beans, legumes, and dairy contain carbohydrate.

If you have type 2 diabetes, what you eat, how much you eat, and when you eat all affect your blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol. Ask to see a dietitian who knows about diabetes. Together, you'll design a meal plan that can help you reach your goals and include your favorite foods. A few tips to get you started include:

- Choose dairy products like low-fat or fat-free milk, yogurt and cheese.
- Choose lean meats and chicken without the skin.
- Eat fish 2-3 times per week.
- Eat vegetables and fruit every day.
- Choose whole grain breads, cereals and pasta.
- Choose foods with less salt.
- If you are trying to lose weight, cut back on your portion sizes.

Below are examples of ways to change your meals:

- For lunch, choose a grilled chicken breast sandwich and a side salad instead of chicken fingers with French fries.
- For breakfast, choose whole wheat toast with light margarine or butter instead of a bagel with regular margarine or butter.

Continue Learning about Diabetes


Diabetes mellitus (MEL-ih-tus), often referred to as diabetes, is characterized by high blood glucose (sugar) levels that result from the body’s inability to produce enough insulin and/or effectively utilize the insulin. Diabetes ...

is a serious, life-long condition and the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Diabetes is a disorder of metabolism (the body's way of digesting food and converting it into energy). There are three forms of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that accounts for five- to 10-percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes may account for 90- to 95-percent of all diagnosed cases. The third type of diabetes occurs in pregnancy and is referred to as gestational diabetes. Left untreated, gestational diabetes can cause health issues for pregnant women and their babies. People with diabetes can take preventive steps to control this disease and decrease the risk of further complications.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.