Learn about a host of diabetes-related topics such as how many Americans suffer from this disease to how to easily adjust to a new diet after diagnoses. This section will provide you with the information you need to make informed dietary decisions regarding diabetes.

Sample Diabetic Meal Plan

Whether you've just been diagnosed with diabetes or you are a seasoned veteran, the importance of planning meals is likely already quite apparent. If you dislike the medication and the insulin shots, there is a way to build your own diabetic meal plan to control your blood sugars without them.


Build Your Own Diabetic Meal Plan

Controlling diabetes with insulin and medication is a good idea, especially at first in order to learn the process. It's also a good idea to work with a registered dietitian or diabetes counselor so that you can build your own diabetic meal plan with foods that you enjoy.

When you master managing diabetes with diet - medications can take a backseat and become a bit more secondary when you build your own diabetic meal plan that helps you control your blood sugars by managing what you eat, and more importantly, how often you eat. To create a diabetic meal plan, there are a few things to keep in mind. Most diabetic meal plans need to meet certain criteria.

Carbohydrates, Sugars, and Starches, Oh My!

The key with diabetes is to make sure you control the amount of carbohydrates that you eat at any one meal or snack. The goal for breakfast is to ensure you have between 30-60g total of combined carbohydrates, sugar, and fructose. If you are looking to keep your weight in check, err on the side of the 30g. This can be challenging - as 1 packet of maple brown sugar oatmeal contains about 45g of carbohydrate. Don't have a glass of juice with that - or it will put you over the top!


People who are diagnosed with diabetes have the misfortune of also being at an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, and hyperlipidemia. So it's a good idea to limit saturated fats like butter, animal fat, and lard - and instead choosing monounsaturated fatty acids like those found in olive oil and canola oil instead. A good rule of thumb is if you are consuming a 2,000 calorie diet each day - aim for no more than 65g of fat total per day, with less than 10g of that coming from saturated fat. This is not as easy as it sounds - a 10-oz ribeye steak contains 63g of fat, and nearly all of it is saturated.


Protein is a very close friend when it comes to developing a diabetic meal plan. Ingestion of protein only slightly raises your insulin levels, because it is slowly absorbed and usually contains no carbohydrate. For most people 20-30g of protein at each meal is enough to meet your daily requirements to maintain lean muscle tissue.


Micronutrients include the vitamins, minerals, fiber, plant sterols and other phytochemicals that you need to maintain your health. Metformin is a drug that is quite commonly used to help control blood sugars in individuals with diabetes, and over time this drug can lead to decreased vitamin B12 levels.

What You Can Expect When Following a Good Diabetic Meal Plan

If you follow this guideline for a diabetic meal plan, you are automatically reducing your risk of kidney disease, obesity, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, neuropathy, blindness and amputations that arise as a result of having uncontrolled diabetes.

The best foods for diabetes include those that keep your blood sugar from spiking too high, too quickly. These foods are typically rich in fiber and vitamins and minerals.

Quick tip: Shop along the outer perimeter of the grocery story, as this is where you'll typically find fresh produce, fresh meats, dairy products, and bakery breads, as opposed to processed and prepackaged foods that are loaded with preservatives, artificial flavorings and colorings, and plenty of sodium and sugar to go around.

Foods That Will Wreck Your Diabetic Meal Plan

There are certain foods that really send your blood sugar spiraling upward after you eat them. It's a good idea to keep these foods out of the house, and eat them only on a rare occasion. These are not the best foods for diabetes, so try and steer clear of them to help manage your diabetes with diet.

The Best Way to Build Your Own Diabetic Meal Plan

Instead of focusing on these foods to build your diabetic meal plan, begin by choosing your protein, and then add vegetables, salad, fruit, and a small serving of whole grains for a well-balanced meal. For breakfast, a veggie omelet with a side of fruit and 1 glass of milk is the perfect way to start your morning. For lunch, try a whole grain wrap with your favorite deli meat-and-cheese combo, so such as turkey and havarti, or ham and cheddar, or beef and swiss. For dinner aim for a balanced meal of a lean meat like chicken, fish, turkey, lean beef, lean pork, shrimp, or seafood. Then add your favorite vegetables and have some fruit with yogurt on the side for dessert. Snack on health combos like apple slices and peanut butter, or triscuit-style crackers with cheese and fruit on top.

Written By Sydney Lappe, MS, RDN. Published on December 15, 2017. Updated on August 12, 2019.


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