Diabetic Diet: What to Eat and What to Avoid

The ideal diet for someone with diabetes is a low carbohydrate diet emphasizing whole foods, fresh vegetables, good fats, and lean protein. A whole foods diet is one that minimizes packaged, processed food and instead relies on foods made from fresh ingredients.

Here are a few helpful hints while shopping:

Shop the Perimeter: While grocery shopping, this means doing the bulk of your shopping around the perimeter of the store: produce, meat, poultry, and fish.

How to Read Labels: People with diabetes, or really anyone who cares about their health and that of their families, must learn how to decipher nutrition labels and ingredient lists on packaged food.

Avoiding Sugar

Diabetics must try to avoid intake of sugar. Sugar comes in many forms, especially in processed foods. It is essential to properly read labels and look at ingredient lists.

What to avoid:

  • white sugar
  • brown sugar
  • turbinado
  • cane juice
  • cane syrup
  • dextrose
  • dextrin
  • glucose
  • sucrose
  • fructose
  • corn syrup
  • high fructose corn syrup
  • corn sugar
  • sorbitol
  • saccharin
  • Splenda (sucralose)
  • Sweet & Low
  • Equal

What to reduce:

Honey, agave nectar, molasses, and maple syrup.  Stevia and xylitol can be used minimally.

Healthy Sugar:

Berries are one sweet food that can be eaten every day!

½ cup of berries (fresh or frozen) make a healthy, sweet snack that is beneficial for people with diabetes.

Berries contain antioxidants and support capillary integrity, both of which are essential for diabetics.


Low and Non-Fat Foods

Beware of low-fat and non-fat foods, as these are often high in sugar or sweeteners.

One goal of reducing all extremely sweet tastes is the help manage your sweet tooth and reduce carbohydrate cravings.

Calculating Carbs

If the total amount of carbohydrates that people with diabetes should eat during the day is somewhere between 30-60 grams (check with your healthcare practitioner), then they should add up the amount of carbs for each food consumed.

How to properly count net carbohydrates

You can calculate how many carbohydrates are in a serving of food by subtracting fiber grams from the total carb grams. The result is the grams of carbohydrates that should be counted for your meal.

For example: 1 serving of Finn Crisp Original Crispbread (3 crackers) has 11 grams of Total Carbs, but three of those are fiber grams.  11-3=8.  Therefore three Finn Crisp crackers have 8 grams of carbs for that meal.

Sample Menu – Diabetic Diet

Breakfast:  This breakfast contains:14 g carbs, 7 g fat, 23 g protein.

  • 2 slices of turkey
  • ½ cup blueberries
  • ½ cup cottage cheese


Snack: This snack contains:5 g carbs, 9 g fat, 3 g protein.

  • 6-8 nuts
  • 1 Tablespoon nut butter
  • ½ cup celery sticks


Lunch: This lunch contains: 10 g carbs, 34 g fat, 14 g protein.

  • ½ cup egg salad with celery, scallions, tomato, and mayonnaise
  •  2 cups salad tossed with vegetables and dressing of olive oil and lemon juice.


Snack: This snack contains: 14 g carbs, 5 g fat, 3 g protein.

  • ¼ cup hummus
  • 1 cup celery sticks, carrot sticks, or cauliflower


Dinner: This dinner contains: 8 g carbs, 9 g fat, 27 g protein

  • 4 oz wild Alaskan salmon grilled, poached or baked
  • 1 cup grilled or sautéed veggies like bell peppers, eggplant, zucchini, or broccoli, topped with 1 Tbsp Romano cheese.



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