Developing an eating plan for people with type 2 diabetes

Eating a healthy diet is an important part of fighting diabetes. Since diet and lifestyle changes can have such a positive effect on blood sugar control, it is important to create an eating plan that is achievable and sustainable for your needs.

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However, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Each meal plan will be different for each person, based on age, gender, activity level, medications, and other factors. Check out the best practices below, but ask your dietitian or nutritionist to help you design an eating plan that is tailored to your specific needs.

7 ways to eat healthy for diabetes

The value of planning for the future

Going forward a week armed with an eating plan can save you a lot of guesswork about what you'll eat each day, which in turn makes it easier to control your blood sugar. Meal planning does not have to be limited to home-cooked meals, but can include both preparatory work at home and deciding which meals to eat away from home.

By choosing a meal ahead of time, you can estimate an approximate number of calories (if you're tracking), avoid wasting portions, and keep your blood sugar as balanced as possible. It will also help you make healthier choices now than when you are hungry.

To make planning your meal easier, create a table and follow these simple steps.

Meal planner
Meal Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
  • Make a Plan: Using a notebook or spreadsheet, map out the days of the week and the meals you will eat each day, leaving room for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks.
  • Find Your Recipes – Pick a few diabetes recipes you like using a cookbook or website, or just choose from a selection of alternatives. A good rule of thumb is to plan to cook just two or three recipes a week and then prepare to cook enough food, or find healthy take-out options to fill in the gaps. Cooking more than three times a week when you're not used to it can be a big commitment and you don't want to set yourself up for failure.
  • Make a shopping list: Using your recipes, make a list of all the ingredients you will need to buy at the store, then schedule the shopping times on your calendar.
  • Make a pre-prepared list – it can be helpful to familiarize yourself with the recipes in advance and find out what you can cook in the next few days. For example, you can cook a pot of beans or grains the night before, grill veggies in the morning as you get ready to go out, or even cook chicken ahead of time. Then store it in the refrigerator in food-safe containers so it can be collected and reheated.
  • Make a Meal Out List – Make a list of hearty, healthy meals you can eat out, such as a hot bar and salad bar at your local health food store, fast food outlets with low carb deals, and restaurants local with vegetarian food. dishes. This may be your list for when you're not in the mood to cook, but still want something that fits in with your healthy lifestyle.

Diabetes Diet Basics

Here is a list of the foods you want to prioritize in your eating plan.


Aim for 45 to 60 grams of carbohydrates per meal and about 15 grams per snack. Please note that your personal needs may differ slightly. Be sure to work under the guidance of a healthcare professional if you want to reduce your carbohydrate intake even further .

Examples of carbohydrate foods:

  • Starchy foods such as bread, cereals, rice, and crackers.
  • Fruit and juice
  • Legumes such as beans, lentils, soy.
  • Starchy vegetables like potatoes, squash, and corn.
  • Sweets and snacks


A well-balanced diet should contain between 20% and 35% of calories from fat. This is similar to 15-25 grams of fat per meal based on a 2,000 calorie diet .

Examples of fat-based foods:

  • Avocado
  • Olives and olive oil
  • Rapeseed oil
  • Coconut and coconut oil
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Whole or whole dairy products
  • Beef, pork, lamb, veal, poultry skin


Protein requirements vary greatly from person to person, but on average adults should consume 45 to 60 grams per day. This equates to 15 to 20 grams per meal .

Examples of foods rich in protein:

  • Meat, poultry and fish
  • Eggs
  • Beans and lentils
  • Soy, tofu, tempeh
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Dairy products
  • Quinoa

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Fiber is an important nutrient to consider when planning diabetes-friendly meals, as it helps slow the rise in blood glucose levels due to its complex structure, which takes longer to digest.

Fiber-rich foods include vegetables, beans, lentils, starches like sweet potatoes and zucchini, fruits like apples and berries, whole grains like brown rice, oatmeal, buckwheat, and more. Adults with diabetes should aim for 35 grams of fiber per day .


These plant foods are a source of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and powerful compounds called phytochemicals that can help reduce chronic disease. Look for leafy greens like kale, spinach, arugula, romaine lettuce, and choose from a true rainbow of veggies like tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, eggplant, zucchini, and more.

Fill Your Plate With These Healthy Foods: Look up recipes and plant-based foods and include them in everything from breakfast (spinach omelets) to desserts (zucchini chocolate muffins). Try to eat five to ten servings a day .

Foods to restrict

Because some foods can raise blood sugar more than others, there are several food groups that should be enjoyed in moderation, but they still have a place on a diabetes-based diet.

Dairy products

On a diabetes-based diet, dairy products can be a good source of protein and fat, but they also contain some carbohydrates. Plan your meals with high-quality grass-fed butter, milk, cheese, and yogurt (look for simple varieties with a lot of fat and no added sugar). For example, if you love fruit yogurts, try adding your frozen fruit to plain fatty yogurt. This way, you can control the sugar content while still enjoying the sweetness. Try to eat one or two servings a day, depending on your carbohydrate needs .

Starchy vegetables

Potatoes, yams, squash, and corn are considered starchy vegetables and should take up a smaller portion of your plate. Although they have a higher nutritional density, they contain more carbohydrates than non-starchy vegetables and should be eaten in smaller amounts if you have diabetes as they can raise blood sugar levels. Try to eat only one or two servings a day .


Fructose, a sugar found in fruits, can be rapidly metabolized by the liver and can cause a spike in blood sugar. But giving it all up means you're missing out on good fiber, vitamins like vitamins C and A, and minerals like potassium and magnesium.

The key to keeping fruit on a diabetes-friendly diet is to eat whole, fresh or frozen fruits and eat them with protein or fat (such as cheese, nut butter, or avocado – try this with grapefruit!) To slow the absorption of sugar . Berries and citrus fruits are great choices, as they are high in fiber and have a slightly lower glycemic index (a rating for how certain foods raise blood sugar). Try to eat just one or two servings a day, and ask your healthcare team for additional tips on adding fruit .


Even small amounts of sugary snacks and desserts can quickly increase blood glucose levels, as the sugar in these foods can be more easily absorbed by the body. For this reason, cookies, cakes, candy, and sugary drinks should be very limited on a diabetes-friendly diet.

If a holiday is coming up where you know you'll be eating, like a slice of cake, be sure to plan for those occasions by limiting your carb intake in other areas (like skipping fruit at breakfast).


Beer, wine, and spirits should not be high on any diabetes-friendly diet, especially if you are taking any medications to control blood sugar. Alcohol can cause low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), so it is best to limit your consumption and consult your doctor before drinking .

Meal Planning Plate Method for Diabetes

If you want your meal planning to be a little less structured, you can start with the plate method. It's a simple formula that doesn't require you to count carbohydrates or grams of protein, but it does require you to know which foods are in which category. This is how it works .

Using a standard food plate:

  • Fill half a plate with non-starchy vegetables.
  • Fill a plate with about a quarter of lean protein
  • Fill a plate about a quarter full with grains or starchy vegetables.

Add one to two servings of fat with each meal (one serving equals one teaspoon of liquid fat, like olive oil, or one tablespoon of solid fat, like sesame seeds), and you can include one or two servings of fruit. per day (one serving equals 1/2 cup or 1 slice of whole fresh fruit). depending on your personal control of blood sugar levels.

Starchy foods

  • Bread, muffins, tortillas, pita bread, English muffin, or bagel.
  • Rice or pasta
  • Unsweetened dry cereal or oatmeal
  • Cookies
  • White or sweet sweet potatoes
  • Winter squash
  • Peas, corn, beans, and lentils

Non-starchy vegetables

  • Asparagus
  • green beans
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrot
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Cucumber
  • Eggplant, pumpkin or squash
  • Green salads
  • Mushrooms
  • Pepper
  • Tomatoes

Lean protein foods

  • Chicken or turkey without skin
  • Lean beef, such as round, tenderloin, skirt steak, tenderloin, or ground beef
  • Lean pork, such as ham, Canadian bacon, tenderloin, or medium tenderloin chops
  • Fish such as salmon, cod, haddock, halibut, trout, tuna, canned tuna or canned salmon, anchovies, mackerel, sardines.
  • Eggs
  • Grass-fed dairy products
  • Tofu, tempeh, seitan and edamame

Get the word of drug information

Meal planning is a great way to help control your blood sugar. Ask your doctor, find a certified diabetes instructor, or ask a dietitian for resources that can help you with meal planning. You can also search the Internet for meal planning templates, charts, diabetes recipe ideas, and shopping lists to make things easier.

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