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Diabetes Diet

writtenByWritten by: Riley McCabe
Riley McCabe

Riley McCabe

Riley has a background in international affairs and enjoys writing about health and public policy subjects. He hopes his work will provide readers with the tools to live happily.

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February 14, 2021 Read Time - 5 minutes

What is a Diabetic Diet?

A diabetic diet is a meal plan for those with diabetes that helps you control your blood sugar levels. You might be worried that having diabetes means you won’t be able to eat the food you enjoy. However, there are plenty of smart ways to eat the food you want as part of a balanced diet.

Here, we’ll be going over some of the recommended foods you should add to your diabetes diet plan, as well as how you can integrate healthy eating into your broader diabetes treatment. Remember, managing your diabetes is about a combination of lifestyle choices including diet, exercise, and medication.

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What Foods Can a Diabetic Eat?

A common misconception is that people with diabetes can only eat certain foods. However,  diabetics can eat any food they want, so long as it’s part of a balanced diet and done so in moderation. Just because you have diabetes doesn’t mean you have to completely avoid the foods you like.

Creating a diabetes meal plan can be challenging. Below, we’ll help you identify some of the foods to add or avoid in your meal plans. We’ll also go over some specific menus you might like for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Diabetes Diet Recommended Foods

Here are some of the best choices from each food group to add to your diabetes meal plan as part of balanced diet:

Grains

  • Whole grains such as brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa, and millet
  • Baked sweet potato
  • Whole wheat breads, pastas, cereals, and tortillas

Vegetables

  • Fresh veggies, eaten raw or steamed
  • Plain frozen vegetables, lightly steamed
  • Greens and salads with minimal dressing
  • Low sodium canned vegetables

Fruits

  • Fresh fruits
  • Plain frozen fruit without added sugar
  • Low-sugar variations of applesauce and jams

Protein

  • Lean meat
  • Chicken or turkey without the skin
  • Fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, or sardines
  • Eggs
  • Tofu

Fats

  • Avocados
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Canola, olive, or peanut oil

Dairy

  • 1% or skim milk
  • Low-fat yogurt
  • Low-fat cheeses

What Food Should Diabetics Avoid?

Here are some of the foods to avoid in your diabetes meal plan:

Grains

  • White bread
  • White rice
  • Cereals without whole grains and added sugars
  • French fries
  • White flour tortillas

Vegetables

  • Canned vegetables with added salt
  • Vegetables cooked with butter
  • Fried pickles and other deep fried veggies

Fruits

  • Chewy fruit rolls
  • Jelly and jams
  • Regular applesauce
  • Fruit punch, fruit drinks, and fruit juice drinks
  • Canned fruit with added sugar

Protein

  • Fried meat
  • Fried fish
  • High-fat cuts, like ribs
  • Pork bacon
  • Chicken or turkey with the skin on

Fats

  • Anything with trans fat in it
  • “Partially hydrogenated” labeled foods
  • Coconut oil
  • Palm oil

Dairy

  • Whole milk
  • Regular yogurt
  • Sour cream
  • Ice cream
  • Half-and-half

Read: Type 1 vs Type 2 Diabetes


When Should I Eat With Diabetes?

As a diabetic, deciding when to eat largely depends on your medication. For example, if you take “mealtime” insulin, your eating schedule is flexible because the medication can simply be taken whenever you have a meal. Others may have to eat approximately the same sized meal at the same time each day.

How Much Can I Eat If I Have Diabetes?

Deciding what the right amount of food to eat is will depend on a lot of individual factors. If you are diabetic and trying to lose weight, your meal plan should consist of eating fewer calories and replacing unhealthy foods with foods lower in calories, fats, and sugars.

Keep in mind, eating healthy is just one piece of the puzzle to losing weight. Other lifestyle choices, particularly getting good sleep and exercising consistently, will also play a significant role in reducing your weight.

  • Book on our free mobile app or website.

    Our doctors operate in all 50 states and same day appointments are available every 15 minutes.

  • See a doctor, get treatment and a prescription at your local pharmacy.

  • Use your health insurance just like you normally would to see your doctor.

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What to Eat for Breakfast When You Have Diabetes

Here are some breakfast ideas for a diabetes diet. Feel free to replace various items below from the list of healthy foods at the top of this article, depending on your taste. Keep in mind, the goal of a diabetes diet is to reduce calorie, sugar, and fat intake. 

  • A toasted piece of whole wheat bread
  • Two eggs
  • Sliced fruit
  • A cup of 1% milk

What is a Good Lunch for a Diabetic?

Here are some different combinations that can make for a healthy lunch:

  • Sliced turkey on whole wheat bread with low fat cheese and lettuce
  • A piece of salmon on brown rice with vegetables
  • Grilled chicken chopped salad with vegetables

Feel free to explore online for more lunch ideas to incorporate into your diabetes meal plan.

What is a Good Dinner for a Diabetic?

If you have more time to cook in the evenings, try out some complex recipes like:

  • Tuna kebab skewers with grilled vegetables
  • Fish tacos with vegetables and guacamole on whole grain tortillas
  • Garlic chicken with a side salad

There are plenty of fantastic online resources if you need some more inspiration, so don’t hesitate to explore!

How PlushCare Can Help With Your Diabetes

If you’re having trouble creating or sticking to your diabetes meal plan, book an appointment with one of PlushCare’s trusted doctors today. Our virtual appointments make it simple and affordable to get professional consultation for your diabetes. If you have questions about your diabetes meal plan or diabetes medication, book an appointment today.

Sources:

PlushCare is dedicated to providing you with accurate and trustworthy health information.

mayoclinic. org. Diabetes diet: Create your healthy-eating plan. Accessed on February 14, 2021 at https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetes/in-depth/diabetes-diet/art-20044295

cdc.gov. Managing diabetes. Accessed on February 14, 2021 at https://www.cdc.gov/diabetestv/managing-diabetes.html

cdc.gov. Hack Your Snack. Accessed on February 14, 2021 at https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/library/spotlights/hack-your-snack.html

Most PlushCare articles are reviewed by M.D.s, Ph.Ds, N.P.s, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. Click here to learn more and meet some of the professionals behind our blog. The PlushCare blog, or any linked materials are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment. For more information click here.

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