A good diet plan for diabetics should emphasize on foods that are low in fat and meat. Foods high in fiber, vitamins and minerals such as leafy green vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans are recommended. These also have a low glycemic index and will keep blood sugar levels from spiking.
Food For Diabetes Diet
Your food choices matter a lot when you’ve got diabetes. Some are better than others.
Nothing is completely off-limits. Even items that you might think of as “the worst” could be occasional treats — in tiny amounts. But they won’t help you nutrition-wise, and it’s easiest to manage your diabetes if you mainly stick to the “best” options.
Your body needs carbs. But you want to choose wisely. Use this list as a guide.
- Whole grains, such as brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa, millet, or amaranth
- Baked sweet potato
- Items made with whole grains and no (or very little) added sugar
- Processed grains, such as white rice or white flour
- Cereals with little whole grains and lots of sugar
- White bread
- French fries
- Fried white-flour tortillas
Load up! You’ll get fiber and very little fat or salt (unless you add them). Remember, potatoes and corn count as carbs.
- Fresh veggies, eaten raw or lightly steamed, roasted, or grilled
- Plain frozen vegetables, lightly steamed
- Greens such as kale, spinach, and arugula. Iceberg lettuce is not as great because it’s low in nutrients.
- Low sodium or unsalted canned vegetables
Go for a variety of colors: dark greens, red or orange (think of carrots or red peppers), whites (onions) and even purple (eggplants). The 2015 U.S. guidelines recommend 2.5 cups of veggies per day.
- Canned vegetables with lots of added sodium
- Veggies cooked with lots of added butter, cheese, or sauce
- Pickles, if you need to limit sodium. Otherwise, pickles are OK.
- Sauerkraut, for the same reason as pickles. Limit them if you have high blood pressure.
They give you carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Most are naturally low in fat and sodium. But they tend to have more carbs than vegetables do.
- Fresh fruit
- Plain frozen fruit or fruit canned without added sugar
- Sugar-free or low-sugar jam or preserves
- No-sugar-added applesauce
- Canned fruit with heavy sugar syrup
- Chewy fruit rolls
- Regular jam, jelly, and preserves (unless you have a very small portion)
- Sweetened applesauce
- Fruit punch, fruit drinks, fruit juice drinks
You have lots of choices, including beef, chicken, fish, pork, turkey, seafood, beans, cheese, eggs, nuts, and tofu.
The American Diabetes Association lists these as the top options:
- Plant-based proteins such as beans, nuts, seeds, or tofu
- Fish and seafood
- Chicken and other poultry (Choose the breast meat if possible.)
- Eggs and low-fat dairy
If you eat meat, keep it low in fat. Trim the skin off of poultry.
Try to include some plant-based protein from beans, nuts, or tofu, even if you’re not a vegetarian or vegan. You’ll get nutrients and fiber that aren’t in animal products.
- Fried meats
- Higher-fat cuts of meat, such as ribs
- Pork bacon
- Regular cheeses
- Poultry with skin
- Deep-fried fish
- Deep-fried tofu
- Beans prepared with lard
Keep it low in fat. If you want to splurge, keep your portion small.
- 1% or skim milk
- Low-fat yogurt
- Low-fat cottage cheese
- Low-fat or nonfat sour cream
- Whole milk
- Regular yogurt
- Regular cottage cheese
- Regular sour cream
- Regular ice cream
- Regular half-and-half
Fats, Oils, and Sweets
They’re tough to resist. But it’s easy to get too much and gain weight, which makes it harder to manage your diabetes.
- Natural sources of vegetable fats, such as nuts, seeds, or avocados (high in calories, so keep portions small)
- Foods that give you omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna, or mackerel
- Plant-based oils, such as canola, grapeseed, or olive oils
- Anything with trans fat in it. It’s bad for your heart. Check the ingredient list for anything that’s “partially hydrogenated,” even if the label says it has 0 grams of trans fat.
- Big portions of saturated fats, which mainly come from animal products but also are in coconut oil and palm oil. Ask your doctor what your limit should be, especially if you have heart disease as well as diabetes.
When you down a favorite drink, you may get more calories, sugar, salt, or fat than you bargained for. Read the labels so you know what’s in a serving.
- Unflavored water or flavored sparkling water
- Unsweetened tea with or without a slice of lemon
- Light beer, small amounts of wine, or non-fruity mixed drinks
- Coffee, black or with added low-fat milk and sugar substitute
- Regular sodas
- Regular beer, fruity mixed drinks, dessert wines
- Sweetened tea
- Coffee with sugar and cream
- Flavored coffees and chocolate drinks
- Energy drinks
7 day diabetes meal plan
Managing blood sugar levels is key to living well with diabetes and avoiding some of its complications. Maintaining a healthful diet can help.
Following a diabetes meal plan can help make sure that a person is getting their daily nutritional needs. It can also ensure variety and help a person lose weight, if necessary.
In addition, a diabetes meal plan can help an individual keep track of carbs and calories and make healthful eating more interesting by introducing some new ideas to the diet.
No one plan will suit everyone. Ultimately, each person should work out their own meal plan with help from a doctor or dietitian.
This article provides two healthful 7-day meal plans that are suitable for people on a calorie-controlled diet. One provides 1,200 calories per day and the other provides 1,600 per day.
Below are also tips and strategies that can help a person set up their own meal plan.
The following meal plans also include the number of carbohydrates for each meal and each day, based on calculations by the United States Department of Agriculture.
Consult a doctor about whether the amounts are suitable or whether to make adjustments.
Measuring food portions can help with monitoring food intake more accurately.
A person with diabetes can enjoy a healthful, varied diet that helps manage their blood sugar levels. Developing this type of diet involves:
- balancing carbohydrates, proteins, and fats to meet dietary goals
- measuring portions accurately
- planning ahead
With these ideas in mind, the following steps can help a person put together a healthful 7-day meal plan:
- Note daily targets for calories and carbohydrates.
- Determine how many portions of carbohydrates and other food components will meet those targets.
- Divide those portions among a day’s meals and snacks.
- Review the rankings of favorite and familiar foods, and try to incorporate them into meals, considering the information above.
- Use exchange lists and other resources to fill out a daily schedule. We describe exchange lists below.
- Plan meals to maximize ingredient use, such as by having roasted chicken one day and chicken soup the next.
- Repeat the process for each day of the week.
- Monitor blood sugar levels daily and weight regularly to see if the meal plan is producing the desired results.
Meal planning considerations
Planning meals in advance is a good way to ensure that people managing diabetes eat a balanced and nutritious diet.
Factors that affect dietary choices for people with diabetes include:
- balancing carbohydrate intake with activity levels and the use of insulin and other medications
- consuming plenty of fiber to help manage blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of high cholesterol, weight gain, cardiovascular disease, and other health issues
- limiting processed carbohydrates and foods with added sugars — such as candies, cookies, and sodas — which are more likely to cause a sugar spike than whole grains and vegetables, for example
- understanding how dietary choices can impact the complications of diabetes, for example, the fact that salt increases the risk of high blood pressure
- managing weight, as this can help a person manage the development of diabetes and its complications
- taking into account individual treatment plans, which will contain recommendations from a doctor or dietitian
The ideal diabetes meal plan will offer menus for three meals a day, plus snacks. The two 7-day meal plans below, based on 1,200 and 1,600 calories per day, provide a maximum of 3 servings of healthful, high-fiber carbohydrate choices at each meal or snack.
1,200 calorie plan
Breakfast: One poached egg and half a small avocado spread on one slice of Ezekiel bread, one orange. Total carbs: Approximately 39
Lunch: Mexican bowl: two-thirds of a cup low-sodium canned pinto beans, 1 cup chopped spinach, a quarter cup chopped tomatoes, a quarter cup bell peppers, 1 ounce (oz) cheese, 1 tablespoon (tbsp) salsa as sauce. Total carbs: Approximately 30.
Snack: 20 1-gram baby carrots with 2 tbsp hummus. Total carbs: Approximately 21.
Dinner: 1 cup cooked lentil penne pasta, 1.5 cups veggie tomato sauce (cook garlic, mushrooms, greens, zucchini, and eggplant into it), 2 oz ground lean turkey. Total carbs: Approximately 35.
Total carbs for the day: 125.
Breakfast: 1 cup (100g) cooked oatmeal, three-quarters of a cup blueberries, 1 oz almonds, 1 teaspoon (tsp) chia seeds. Total carbs: Approximately 34
Lunch: Salad: 2 cups fresh spinach, 2 oz grilled chicken breast, half a cup chickpeas, half a small avocado, a half cup sliced strawberries, one quarter cup shredded carrots, 2 tbsp dressing. Total carbs: Approximately 52.
Snack: One small peach diced into one-third cup 2% cottage cheese. Total carbs: Approximately 16.
Dinner: Mediterranean couscous: two-thirds cup whole wheat cooked couscous, half a cup sautéed eggplant, four sundried tomatoes, five jumbo olives chopped, half a diced cucumber, 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar, fresh basil. Total carbs: Approximately 38.
Total carbs for the day: Approximately 140.
Breakfast: Two-egg veggie omelet (spinach, mushrooms, bell pepper, avocado) with a half cup black beans, three-quarters cup blueberries. Total carbs: Approximately 34.
Lunch: Sandwich: two regular slices high-fiber whole grain bread, 1 tbsp plain, no-fat Greek yogurt and 1 tbsp mustard, 2 oz canned tuna in water mixed with a quarter cup of shredded carrots, 1 tbsp dill relish, 1 cup sliced tomato, half a medium apple. Total carbs: Approximately 40.
Snack: 1 cup unsweetened kefir. Total carbs: Approximately 12.
Dinner: Half a cup (50g) succotash, 1 tsp butter, 2 oz pork tenderloin, 1 cup cooked asparagus, half a cup fresh pineapple. Total carbs: Approximately 34.
Total carbs for the day: Approximately 120.
Breakfast: Sweet potato toast: two slices (100 g) toasted sweet potato, topped with 1 oz goat cheese, spinach, and 1 tsp sprinkled flaxseed. Total carbs: Approximately 44.
Lunch: 2 oz roast chicken, 1 cup raw cauliflower, 1 tbsp low-fat French dressing, 1 cup fresh strawberries. Total carbs: Approximately 23.
Snack: 1 cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt mixed with half a small banana. Total carbs: Approximately 15.
Dinner: A two-thirds cup of quinoa, 8 oz silken tofu, 1 cup cooked bok choy, 1 cup steamed broccoli, 2 tsp olive oil, one kiwi. Total carbs: Approximately 44.
Total carbs for the day: Approximately 126.
Breakfast: A one-third cup of Grape-Nuts (or similar high-fiber cereal), half a cup blueberries, 1 cup unsweetened almond milk. Total carbs: Approximately 41.
Lunch: Salad: 2 cups spinach, a quarter cup tomatoes, 1 oz cheddar cheese, one boiled chopped egg, 2 tbsp yogurt dressing, a quarter cup grapes, 1 tsp pumpkin seeds, 2 oz roasted chickpeas. Total carbs: Approximately 47.
Snack: 1 cup celery with 1 tbsp peanut butter. Total carbs: Approximately 6.
Dinner: 2 oz salmon filet, one medium baked potato, 1 tsp butter, 1.5 cups steamed asparagus. Total carbs: Approximately 39.
Total carbs for the day: Approximately 133.
Breakfast: 1 cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt sweetened with half a banana mashed, 1 cup strawberries, 1 tbsp chia seeds. Total carbs: Approximately 32.
Lunch: Tacos: two corn tortillas, a one-third cup cooked black beans, 1 oz low-fat cheese, 2 tbsp avocado, 1 cup coleslaw, salsa as dressing. Total carbs: Approximately 70.
Snack: One cherry tomato and 10 baby carrots with 2 tbsp hummus. Total carbs: Approximately 14.
Dinner: Half medium baked potato with skin, 2 oz broiled beef, 1 tsp butter, 1.5 cups steamed broccoli with 1 tsp nutritional yeast sprinkled on top, three-quarters cup whole strawberries. Total carbs: Approximately 41.
Total carbs for the day: Approximately 157.
Breakfast: Chocolate peanut oatmeal: 1 cup cooked oatmeal, 1 scoop chocolate vegan or whey protein powder, 1 tbsp peanut butter, 1 tbsp chia seeds. Total carbs: Approximately 21.
Lunch: One small whole wheat pita pocket, half a cup cucumber, half a cup tomatoes, half a cup lentils, half a cup leafy greens, 2 tbsp salad dressing. Total carbs: Approximately 30.
Snack: 1 oz almonds, one small grapefruit. Total carbs: Approximately 26.
Dinner: 2 oz boiled shrimp, 1 cup green peas, 1 tsp butter, half a cup cooked beets, 1 cup sauteed Swiss chard, 1 tsp balsamic vinegar. Total carbs: Approximately 39.
Total carbs for the day: Approximately 116