Now that you’ve checked in with your diabetes healthcare team and have a better understanding of your personal goals for healthy eating and meal planning, it’s time to get started on Goal No. 2 – Enter the Nutrition Zone!

Maintaining a healthy, balanced diet full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and lean proteins is especially important for people with type 2 diabetes and can help you better manage the ABCs (A1C (blood sugar), blood pressure and cholesterol).

Start adding healthy eating and meal planning to your daily routine, one step at a time. The checklist below may be helpful. It takes a fair amount of time to form new habits, so you should spend several weeks focusing on this goal. Keep what you’ve learned about healthy eating and meal planning with you as you move on to the next goal and continue putting it into practice each day.

“Healthy eating is one of the main ingredients of any diabetes management plan, but I understand that it can be hard to know where to start. The simple tips below will help you stay on schedule and can help you reach your goals. I know you can do it!”

- Samantha Heller

  • Swap it Out
    • Choose 100% whole grain breads, whole wheat pasta, brown and wild rices, whole grain crackers, or quinoa in place of white breads, pastas, rices and crackers. Whole grains are high in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber, and can help manage blood sugar levels
    • Unsaturated oils that come from plants, such as olive oil, canola oil, corn oil and sesame oil, make food taste great and are high in heart-healthy compounds like antioxidants. Use these oils in place of butter, lard, bacon fat or other animal fats
    • Cut back on foods containing high levels of sodium and saturated fat to help reach blood pressure and cholesterol goals and lower your risk for heart disease
    • Avoid sugar sweetened beverages such as sodas, fruit drinks and pre-sweetened teas. Opt for water, seltzers, and regular or herbal teas
  • Put a Rainbow on Your Plate
    Vegetables and fruits like to show off their antioxidant power with vibrant colors. Choose non-starchy vegetables of all colors such as broccoli, spinach, red and yellow peppers, cauliflower, and carrots. Fruits such as blueberries, strawberries, oranges and apples help round out the rainbow.
  • Go with the Pro
    Healthy foods containing protein can help you manage your blood sugar levels and your weight and keep you feeling full longer, so include healthy foods containing protein with each meal and snack. You should limit red and processed meats such as beef, lamb, hot dogs, ham, and bologna.

    • Healthy protein-containing foods include fish, eggs, nuts, nut butters (peanut, almond, cashew), soy (tofu, edamame), beans (kidney, lentil, chickpeas), poultry, and low- or non-fat cheese, cottage cheese and yogurt
  • Plan Ahead
    Make several healthy meals, or a large batch of one healthy meal, that can be easily reheated throughout the week. For example, whole wheat pasta with grilled chicken and vegetables. This will make you less likely to pick up fast food on your way home

    • Plan out your daily meals and snacks in the Healthy Meals and Snacks Planner, and record what you eat and drink in a notebook that you can share with your diabetes healthcare team < print >
  • Eat at the Right Times
    Skipping meals, or waiting too long to eat, can make you more likely to overeat or eat unhealthy foods later. Also, with certain medications, skipping meals can put you at risk for low blood sugar, which can cause symptoms including dizziness or shakiness and lead to serious consequences – such as loss of consciousness – if not treated quickly
  • Choose the Right Snacks
    Keep healthy, diabetes-friendly snacks with you, like an apple or mixed nuts, so you’ll be less likely to grab something unhealthy like a bag of chips or a candy bar