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What To Eat When Your Diabetic


What Can You Eat If You Have Diabetes Foods To Eat & Avoid

What To Eat for Prediabetes

By Elisabeth Almekinder RN, BA, CDE

Through twenty-five years of working with people with diabetes, when they come in for diabetes education, their first question is most often What can I eat . The next question is often, What cant I eat ?

In this article, we will explore what foods are best to eat when you have just been diagnosed with Pre-Diabetes, and Type 2 Diabetes, and what foods are best avoided.

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There is no other guide available on the internet that will guide you through the best foods to choose, and the best foods to avoid. Take heed, as some foods in the American diet are detrimental. These are also the same foods that Americans are addicted to.


On occasion, you will be able to eat from the foods to avoid list, such as on a holiday, or your birthday. It shouldnt become a regular occurrence to eat foods that are best avoided if you have Pre-Diabetes or Type 2 Diabetes. Also, eating healthier throughout your lifespan, can prevent Pre-Diabetes and Type 2 Diabetes from ever surfacing at all.

Starting to eat a healthy diet can help you to reverse your Pre-Diabetes, along with regular physical activity, and sometimes medication . You can either get Type 2 Diabetes in good control, or you can reverse it to a Pre-Diabetes state in some cases, if you work on healthy lifestyle changes.

What Foods Should Be Avoided If You Have Type 1 Diabetes

People with type 1 diabetes should avoid many of the same unhealthy foods that everyone should limit. In short, this means restricting processed foods and food with a high glycemic load. This includes

  • sodas ,
  • processed/refined sugars ,
  • trans fats , and
  • high-fat animal products.

Restrict white foods i.e. pasta, bread, scones, cookies, flour, sugar, white potato, etc. This is an easy way to remove high glycemic load foods. It is important to remember that, unlike type 2 diabetes, food choices didn’t specifically contribute to developing type 1 diabetes but they do impact how someone manages diabetes. People with type 1 and 2 diabetes alike are at risk for the complications that stem from high blood sugar, such as cardiovascular disease and obesity. Because of this, attention to healthy eating is important and foods that increase the risk of cardiovascular disease should be avoided.

Dairy Intake During Pregnancy

Dairy products are another category to moderate in your diet. Some are high in protein, but they still have sugar. Avoid full-fat milk or yogurt with added sugar. Instead, pregnant women should choose skim milk or a plant-based beverage. Non-fat Greek yogurt is a good source of calcium and protein that is lower in sugar.


Some cheese can be eaten in a gestational diabetes diet. Seek out low-fat options like ricotta, mozzarella, or cottage cheese for a filling snack.

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List Of Foods You Should Eat When Youve Been Diagnosed With Pre

The following is a list of lower glycemic index foods from each food group, which will help to keep your blood sugar in your target ranges. Low glycemic index foods dont raise your blood sugar as fast as high glycemic foods, and thats important when you have Pre-Diabetes or Type 2 Diabetes.

If you dont eat the right foods most of the time, it can cause you to have high blood sugars, which over time, leads to inflammation of tissues, increasing the risk for cardiovascular complications and other complications from diabetes.

Conversely, if you eat the wrong foods on a rare occasion, such as the holidays, you will still be able to get good management of your blood sugars, and live healthy with your diabetes. You may be able to reverse your Pre-Diabetes or Type 2 Diabetes. This is not possible in all cases, but it is possible for some people.


Foods that contain carbohydrates, either simple or complex, break down in the body to sugar or glucose molecules. Therefore, of all the macronutrients that we need, including carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, carbohydrates break down to sugar the fastest, therefore they have the most affect on blood sugars. Carbohydrates are found in all foods that are classified as sugar, fiber, or starches. Fiber, however, takes longer to break down into sugar.

Starches and carbohydrates

Though we watch our amounts of carbohydrates when we have diabetes, we still need a substantial amount of our food intake to be from carbohydrates.

Whole grains

Can You Eat Foods To Prevent Diabetes

Diabetes

Researchers from the University of Minnesota wanted to see if what people ate influenced whether they developed diabetes following 2,717 young adults in the United States, they found those who ate more plant-based foods had a 60 percent lower risk of type II diabetes than those who ate only a few plant-based foods. If youve been told you are at risk of developing diabetes, know that with a research-proven eating plan, it is possible to prevent diabetes.


The Pritikin Eating Plan that guests at the Pritikin Center learn to incorporate into their everyday lives through interactive lectures, cooking classes, and delicious meals served by award winning chefs, has been proven to help control diabetes, and in some cases, even reverse diabetes.

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Dont Forget To Keep Moving

Being more physically active goes hand in hand with eating healthier. It can help you manage your diabetes and also reduce your risk of heart problems. This is because it increases the amount of glucose used by your muscles and helps the body use insulin more efficiently.

Try to aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week. This is any activity that raises your heart rate, makes you breathe faster and feel warmer. You should still be able to talk and only be slightly out of breath. And you dont have to do all 150 minutes in one go. Break it down into bite-size chunks of 10 minutes throughout the week or 30 minutes 5 times a week.

Eat At Regularly Set Times

Your body is better able to regulate blood sugar levelsand your weightwhen you maintain a regular meal schedule. Aim for moderate and consistent portion sizes for each meal.


Start your day off with a good breakfast. It will provide energy as well as steady blood sugar levels.

Eat regular small mealsup to 6 per day. Eating regularly will help you keep your portions in check.

Keep calorie intake the same. To regulate blood sugar levels, try to eat roughly the same amount every day, rather than overeating one day or at one meal, and then skimping the next.

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Carbohydrates For Gestational Diabetes

Rather than eating processed carbohydrate foods such as white bread, or simple carbs like white rice, choose complex carbohydrate whole grain items like brown rice and whole-grain bread. These will still need to be tracked for their carb content and eaten in moderation, but they are a much better choice than highly processed high carbohydrate foods.


Avoid cereals and oats for breakfast, which are high in carbohydrates, and opt instead for high protein items like eggs. Sweet potatoes and other starchy vegetables can be eaten in small amounts counted toward your daily carb intake. Rice, farro, barley, quinoa, and oatmeal are filling choices for adding to salads or eating as sides. Veggies like celery and baby carrots make healthy snacks. Legumes and beans, like lentils or black beans, are nutritious sources of protein that also count toward your carbohydrate intake, but your body digests them more slowly than other items in this category.

The Best Type 2 Diabetes Diet

Everything A Diabetic SHOULD And SHOULD NOT Eat – Diabetic Diet Explained! | Dr. Kim

So what does the best type 2 diabetes diet look like? We break foods down into three categories: green light, yellow light, and red light foods.

Green lights you can eat as much as you want, period. Yellow lights are okay, but shouldnt be daily staples. And we recommend removing red light foods from your diet and your pantry.

To learn more about this diet and how to execute it, you can check out our article on the diabetes diet, or talk to our coaches.

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What Foods High In Protein Are Good For Type 2 Diabetes

The American Diabetes Association recommends lean proteins low in saturated fat for people with diabetes. If youre following a vegan or vegetarian diet, getting enough and the right balance of protein may be more challenging, but you can rely on foods like beans , nuts and nut spreads, tempeh, and tofu to get your fix, notes the Cleveland Clinic. Just be sure to keep portion size in mind when snacking on nuts, as they are also high in fat and calories, according to Harvard Health. The American Heart Association counts a small handful of whole nuts as one serving. If you opt for unsalted almonds, 1.5 ounces will provide 258 calories and nearly 23 g of fat, per estimates from the U.S. Department of Agriculture .

Meanwhile, processed or packaged foods should be avoided or limited in your diabetes diet because, in addition to added sugars and processed carbohydrates, these foods are often high in sodium, according to the AHA. Getting too much sodium in your diet can increase your blood pressure and, in turn, the risk of heart disease or stroke, notes Harvard Health. And heart disease and stroke are two common complications of diabetes, according to the Mayo Clinic. Its important to keep your blood pressure in check when managing diabetes.

Best options, according to the ADA:

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Best options , per the ADA and the NIDDK:


  • Wild or brown rice

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Which Types Of Dairy Can People With Diabetes Eat

When picked well and eaten in moderation, dairy can be a great choice for people with diabetes. In fact, a review published September 2017 in Nutrients revealed that dairy products such as milk and yogurt offer protective benefits against type 2 diabetes. Whenever possible, opt for low-fat and fat-free dairy options to keep calories down, and unhealthy saturated fats at bay. Also, try to avoid flavored dairy, such as milks and yogurt, without added sugar.

Best options, per the ADA and the Mayo Clinic:

  • Unsweetened almond milk

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Tips For When Temptation Strikes

In diabetes diet terms, temptation translates to foods you shouldnt eat because they are loaded with sugar and empty carbs that will send your blood sugar skyrocketing. That piece of cake, cinnamon bun, brownie, or bag of chips usually contain more than just carbs, they usually contribute unhealthy fats, too.

The less often you eat these sugary, fatty desserts and snacks, the less you will come to want them. Some people do better allowing yourself an occasional craving. Striking the right balance will depend upon your goals, and urgency.

Heres the thing: this word of caution is not just for people with diabetes who need to watch their sugar and fat intake, in truth, it is a red flag for anyone who wants stay healthy and avoid chronic diseases. Thats why the whole family benefits from eating healthy foods and saving small indulgences for special occasions.

Basic Eating Guidelines For Diabetes

The Beginner

If you have diabetes, follow a simple healthy eating plan, which includes:

  • Eat regular meals throughout the day.
  • Make vegetables the main part of your meal. Aim to fill at least half of your plate with non-starchy vegetables or salad at both lunch and dinner time.
  • You may need to reduce the serving size of your meals and snacks, as eating too much can lead to weight gain and make diabetes harder to manage.
  • Don’t add salt when you cook or at the table and reduce the use of high-salt foods.
  • Use herbs and spices to add flavour to your food.
  • Limit alcohol to 2 standard drinks per day, with some alcohol-free days each week.

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Foods To Eat Every Week To Help Control Diabetes

These foods deserve a spot on your plate if you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

Living with diabetes no longer means adhering to a rigid food plan. In fact, today’s recommendation are highly individualized and flexible, with guidelines focusing on choosing a variety of nutrient-dense foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, low-fat dairy, lean protein, nuts, and healthy fats. And within these food groups, there are even a few specific foods that research suggests will not only keep you healthy, but may offer additional benefits when it comes to glucose management and diabetes-related health issues.

Check out these 10 foods that are worth adding to your weekly menus if you are living with diabetes.

What Vegetables Are Good For People With Diabetes And Which Arent

Vegetables are an important food group to include in any healthy diet, and a diabetes diet is no exception. Veggies are full of fiber and nutrients, and nonstarchy varieties are low in carbohydrates a win for people with diabetes who want to gain control over their blood sugar level, Massey says.

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 youre 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.


Follow this general rule: Aim to fill one-half your plate with nonstarchy veggies, as recommended by the NIDDK. And if youre craving mashed white potatoes, try mashed cauliflower, Massey suggests.

Best veggie options, according to the ADA:

  • Greens, like spinach, kale, and Swiss chard
  • Cruciferous veggies, like broccoli and cauliflower
  • Cucumbers

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Healthy Eating And Diabetes

If you have diabetes, healthy eating can help you to:


Healthy eating for people with diabetes is no different than for everyone else. You do not need to prepare separate meals or buy special foods, so relax and enjoy healthy eating with the rest of your family.

Let’s Get Started With What Type 2 Diabetes Is

What Can Diabetics Eat? – Food to Avoid with Diabetes

First, its helpful to have a little background information about what exactly a type 2 diabetes diagnosis means. When you eat, your body turns food into glucose, which the hormone insulin then shuttles to other parts of your body that need to use it as fuel. In a person with type 2 diabetes, the cells in your muscles, fat and liver dont respond to insulin properly so an excess of glucose remains in your bloodstream, which can have dangerous consequences if left untreated.

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Healthy Eating Tips For Diabetes

Food is the key to managing diabetes and reducing the risk of heart attack, stroke, and other problems. There are many things you can do to change or improve your diet, but its important to avoid trying to change too many things at once.

Use the information below to pick 1 or 2 things you can do today to help you plan for healthier meals. Once you feel comfortable with the new changes, come back to this page and choose another healthy eating tip to work on.

What Else Do I Need To Know About Diabetic Diets

If you have diabetes, it’s important to eat the right amount of food every day. Your eating plan will include how much to eat, so that you get the right amount of carbs in each meal or snack. You’ll learn how to count carbs and measure your food.

Eating at the right times is also important. You will want to plan for regular, balanced meals to avoid high or low blood sugar levels. Eating about the same amount of carbs at each meal can be helpful.

Your eating plan will also teach you how to stick with your plan at home and when you eat out.

Eating healthy to control your blood sugar does take some effort. But the reward is a chance to live your healthiest life with diabetes.

NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

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Goal : Attain Normal Lab Results

Your physician will work with you to establish individual goals for blood glucose, blood cholesterol, and blood pressure. Regular testing will help ensure that your diet plan, exercise strategies and medication, if necessary, are all working together to keep your blood sugar, lipids, blood pressure, and your body weight, in healthy ranges.

How To Build A Diabetes

20 Top Power Foods to Eat for Diabetes

There are four categories you want to try to include when planning a diabetes-friendly meal, whether for breakfast or other times of day. They consist of:

  • Fiber, such as oatmeal, whole-grain bread, and whole-wheat/bran muffins
  • Lean protein, such as eggs, fish, beans, or nuts
  • Healthy fats, such as olive oil, avocado, grass-fed butter and dairy, coconut, and nuts
  • Non-starchy vegetables, such as peppers, tomatoes, onions, and especially dark leafy greens
  • Focusing on these four types of food will ensure that your plate checks all the boxes of a satisfying, nutrient-dense meal. Plus, you’ll set yourself up to make better meal choices throughout the rest of the day.

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