Skip to Content

Nutrition for Diabetics

Healthy eating is the first step in taking care of your diabetes. These are some general guidelines for healthy eating, but meeting with a dietitian is still important, as meal plans should be individualized.

General Pointers for Healthy Eating

  • You do not need special or diet foods.
  • You can, and should, eat a wide variety of foods every day.
  • Do not skip meals. This is especially important if you are on medication for diabetes.
  • Use less added salt and sugar.
  • Eat less fat, especially saturated fat.
  • Include high-fiber foods, such as beans, whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
  • Eat about the same amount of food every day.
  • Eat snacks and meals at regularly-scheduled times every day.
  • Limit sweets.
  • If you want to lose weight, cut down on your portion sizes.
  • Remember the food that is good for you is also good for your whole family.
  • Watch your carbohydrate intake (in starchy foods, fruits, milk and sweets) which most directly affects blood sugar levels.
  • Spread carbohydrate intake throughout the day.
  • See a dietitian for a meal plan that is best for you.

Food servings (from ADA)

Starch

Cereals, grains, pasta, bread, beans, starchy vegetables

Guideline: six or more servings a day

A serving can be:

  • 1/4 bagel
  • 1 small tortilla or waffle
  • 1/2 English muffin, pita bread, 1/2 hamburger bun
  • 4 to 6 crackers
  • 3/4 oz. pretzels
  • 1 small potato - about the size of a tennis ball
  • 3/4 cup dry cereal
  • 1/2 cup cooked cereal or bulghur
  • 1/3 cup cooked rice or pasta
  • 1/2 cup peas or corn

Helpful Hints:

  • Choose foods such as whole-grain bread or crackers, tortillas, bran cereal, brown rice or bulgur. They are nutritious and high in fiber.
  • Choose beans as a good source of fiber.
  • Use whole-wheat or other whole-grain flours in cooking and baking.
  • Choose low-fat breads, such as bagels, tortillas, English muffins and pita bread.
  • For snacks, try pretzels or low-fat crackers.

Non-starchy Vegetables

Guideline: three to five servings a day

A serving can be:

  • 1 cup raw vegetables (lettuce, carrots, celery, cucumbers, etc.)
  • 1/2 cup cooked vegetables
  • 1/2 cup tomato or vegetable juice

Helpful Hints:

  • Choose fresh or frozen vegetables without added sauces, fats or salt.
  • Choose more dark-green and deep-yellow vegetables, such as spinach, broccoli, romaine, carrots, chilies and peppers.

Fruits

Guideline: three to four servings a day

A serving can be:

  • 1 small fresh fruit
  • 1/2 cup canned fruit with no added sugar
  • 1/2 cup fruit juice
  • 1 cup melon or berries
  • 2 tbsp raisins

Helpful Hints:

  • Choose whole fruits often. They have more fiber than juices.
  • Choose fruits and fruit juices without added sweeteners or syrups.
  • Choose citrus fruit, such as oranges, grapefruit or tangerines.

Milk

Guideline: two to three servings a day

A serving can be:

  • 1 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt

Helpful Hints:

  • Choose low-fat or nonfat products, such as skim or 1% milk. Choose nonfat or lowfat yogurt.
  • Yogurt has natural sugar in it. It can also have added sugar or artificial sweeteners. Yogurt with artificial sweeteners has fewer calories and carbohydrates than yogurt with added sugar.

Protein

Guideline: two to three servings a day

A serving can be:

  • 2 to 3 oz. cooked lean meat, poultry or fish
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup tuna or cottage cheese
  • 2 to 3 oz. cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp. peanut butter

Helpful Hints:

  • Choose fish and poultry more often. Remove the skin from chicken and turkey.
  • Select lean cuts of beef, veal, pork or wild game.
  • Trim all visible fat from meat.
  • Bake, roast, broil, grill or boil instead of frying or adding fat.
  • Choose cheese with no more than 5g fat per ounce
  • Limit eggs to three per week

Fats

Guideline: limit to five to eight servings a day (less for weight loss)

A serving can be:

  • 1 tsp. margarine, butter, mayonnaise, oil
  • 1 tbsp. reduced-fat margarine or reduced fat salad mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp. cream cheese
  • 1/8 avocado
  • 10 peanuts
  • 1 tbsp. salad dressing

Helpful Hints:

  • Eat less fat, not more than thirty to thirty-five percent of total calories.
  • Eat less saturated fat. It is found in meat and animal products, such as hamburger, cheese, bacon and butter.
  • Saturated fat is usually solid at room temperature.
  • Choose fats higher in monounsaturated fat such as olive oil, canola oil and peanut oil.

Location

Diabetes Services is located at 1120 112th Ave NE, Suite 150, Bellevue, WA.