January 17, 2021

What Is The Ideal Diet For People With Diabetes?

Whether you have Type I or Type II diabetes, you must think more in depth about the foods you consume. Learn more about the ideal diet for people with diabetes.

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What Is The Ideal Diet For People With Diabetes

Home / Living with Diabetes / What Is The Ideal Diet For People With Diabetes?

When it comes to diabetes, the old saying is true – you are what you eat. If you’re living with Type I or Type II diabetes, the choices you make regarding your everyday diet can make or break your blood sugar level. Other factors can play a role, too – including everything from physical activity to relaxation – but it’s hard to overstate the importance of a healthy diet in diabetes management plans.

With that in mind, it’s never a bad idea to brush up on what makes a diet good or bad for diabetes patients. Read on for our advice on how you can create a diet that’s both diabetes-friendly and tasty – complete with recipes.

Building Your Food Pyramid


If you’re rethinking your diet, a good way to start is by looking at the individual ingredients you’re eating. Fortunately, the experts at WebMD have assembled a list of the best foods for people with diabetes to eat.

Generally speaking, vegetables are great for diabetes patients – they’re high in fiber and low in fat and salt. Raw or cooked fresh vegetables, steamed frozen vegetables, and greens like spinach and kale are all good additions to your diet. (Just remember: potatoes and corn are counted as carbs, so be careful when you’re eating them!)

Fruits are healthy, too, since they’re high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. However, they’ll usually bring more carbs to the table than vegetables will. Your best bets here are fresh fruit, plain frozen fruit, sugar-free or low-sugar jams/preserves, and applesauce made without added sugar. Select fruits that have a higher fiber content like berries, these will not cause your sugar levels to spike. Moderation is the key!

Proteins shouldn’t give you too much grief – you can safely enjoy all sorts of protein sources, including meat, poultry, fish, dairy, and tofu. Just include some plant-based protein for extra nutrients and fiber, such as beans, and avoid fatty cuts of meat as found in ribs, pork chops, sausage and bacon.

Dairy can be okay, as well. Still, you’ll want to focus on low-fat options (like 1% or skim milk) and keep your portions of higher-fat dairy products under control.

Choosing carbohydrates can be a difficult process for people with diabetes, but some are definitely better than others. Specifically, whole grains – like oatmeal, brown rice, and so on – are always a good choice. Baked sweet potatoes are also a healthy source of carbs.

Finally, you can wash your meals down with beverages like these:

  • Water
  • Flavored sparkling water sugar-free
  • Unsweetened tea
  • Black coffee (caffeine may also have an impact on blood glucose levels)

For consumption of alcoholic beverages, please consult with your doctor. Alcohol can have an effect on your blood glucose levels.

Foods To Avoid

On the other hand, the same WebMD article also includes information on the foods that aren’t great for people with diabetes. Spoiler alert: there’s a lot of them.

Obviously, you shouldn’t binge on fats, oils, and sweets whether you have diabetes or not, but the weight gain they can cause can make it harder to manage this condition. You’ll especially want to avoid trans fats/partially hydrogenated oils and saturated fats. Relatively healthy options include small portions of vegetable fats, plant-based oils, and the omega-3 fatty acids found in some types of fish.

It’s also easy for people with diabetes to go wrong when it comes to carbohydrates. As a rule of thumb, avoid processed grains, sugary cereals, and white bread like the plague. Still, you need some carbohydrates in your diet, so it’s a good idea to start counting carbs if you’re not already doing that.

Vegetables are mostly healthy on their own, but salty canned and cooked vegetables can be dangerous if you’re trying to cut down on sodium. The same is true for pickles and sauerkraut, by the way. Meanwhile, sugary canned fruits, regular jams and jellies, sweetened applesauce, and fruity drinks can also cause problems for diabetes patients.

Though large or even normal-sized portions of foods like these can be dangerous for people with diabetes, a few bites won’t kill you. You can enjoy these foods safely by occasionally eating small amounts, so you don’t have to cut them out of your life entirely – just don’t overdo it.

Dessert Is Served

Looking to satisfy your sweet tooth while keeping your diabetes under control? A great way to accomplish this is by making your own desserts. At US MED, we have a large selection of recipes available for your needs – including dessert options.

Some of these recipes use artificial sweeteners – which, according to the Mayo Clinic, won’t affect your blood sugar level. While it’s important to remember that other ingredients in artificially-sweetened foods can affect your health, artificial sweeteners can be a useful tool for people with diabetes.

Putting It All Together

Now that we’ve done some research on creating a healthy diet that takes diabetes into account, we’re ready to put what we’ve learned into practice. Here’s what your meals could look like on an average day…

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so make sure to start strong. Your choices for a healthy breakfast include Low-Carb Cinnamon Rolls, Banana-Coconut Bread, and a Lean & Green Smoothie.

When lunchtime arrives, you can keep this momentum going with a larger meal that’s still designed with your health needs in mind. Try a Spinach, Apple & Pecan Salad, Spicy Shrimp and Broccoli Mash, or a Pesto Chicken Salad Wrap.

Later on, bring your day to a close with a delicious and nutritious dinner. You can enjoy entrees like Roasted Ham With Orange Glaze, Restaurant-Style Spinach Manicotti, and Bacon Chicken Artichoke Pizza.

Eating Right, One Day At A Time

If you have diabetes, you’ll need to put in some extra thought to be sure your diet is right for you – but it’s far from impossible. With these tips and recipes, you’ll have what it takes to stick to a balanced diet that’ll help you keep your blood sugar in check!

Looking for more diabetes-friendly dishes? Check out US MED’s full collection of recipes.

Shirley DeLeon Certified Diabetes Care & Education Specialist

Medical Review by Shirley DeLeon, Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist

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