Diet for Diabetes: Creating a Healthy Eating Plan

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In simple terms, a diabetes diet is about eating the right amount of healthy food and sticking to regular meal times.

A diabetes diet is a healthy eating plan rich in natural nutrients and low in fat and calories. The main ingredients are fruits, vegetables and whole grains. In fact, a diabetes diet is the best meal plan for most people.

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Why do you need a healthy eating plan?

If you have diabetes or prediabetes, your doctor may refer you to a dietitian to help you develop a healthy eating plan. This program helps you control your blood sugar (glucose), manage your weight, and manage heart disease risk factors, such as high blood pressure and high blood fats.

What does a diabetes diet include?

The foundation of a diabetes diet is eating three regular meals a day. This helps you make better use of the insulin your body makes or gets through your medicines.


Recommended food

Count your calories with these nutritious foods. Choose healthy carbohydrates, fiber-rich foods, fish and "good" fats.

Healthy carbohydrates

During digestion, sugars (simple carbohydrates) and starches (complex carbohydrates) are broken down into blood sugar. Focus on healthy carbohydrates like:

  • Fruit
  • Vegetable
  • Whole grain
  • Legumes, such as soybeans and peas
  • Low-fat dairy products, such as milk and cheese

Avoid less healthy carbohydrates, such as foods or drinks with added fat, sugar, and sodium.

Fiber-rich foods

Dietary fiber includes all plant foods that the body cannot digest or absorb. Fiber regulates the body's digestive function and helps control blood sugar levels. High-fiber foods include:

  • Vegetable
  • Fruit
  • Nut
  • Legumes, such as soybeans and peas
  • Whole grain

Heart-Healthy Fish

Eat heart-healthy fish at least twice a week. Fish (such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines) are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which may protect against heart disease.

Avoid fried fish and fish high in mercury, such as mackerel.

"Good" Fats

Foods containing monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can help lower cholesterol levels. include:

  • Avocado
  • Nut
  • Canola, Olive, and Peanut Oils

But don't overdo it, because all fats are high in calories.

Bringing it all together: making a plan

There are several different methods you can use to create a diabetes diet to help keep your blood sugar levels within a normal range.

Plate method

The American Diabetes Association offers an easy way to plan meals. Essentially, it focuses on eating more vegetables. When preparing your plate, take the following steps:

  • Fill half of your plate with non-starchy vegetables like spinach, carrots, and tomatoes.
  • Fill a quarter of your plate with protein (such as tuna, lean pork, or chicken).
  • Fill the last quarter of your plate with whole grains (such as brown rice) or starchy vegetables (such as green peas).
  • Contains small amounts of "good" fats, such as nuts or avocados.
  • Add a serving of fruit or dairy with a glass of water or unsweetened tea or coffee.


Sample menu

When planning meals, consider your body type and activity level. The menu below is tailored for those who need to eat between 1200 and 1600 calories per day.

  • Breakfast. Whole grain bread (1 medium slice) with 2 teaspoons of jelly, 1/2 cup of chopped oatmeal with a cup of 1% low-fat milk, a piece of fruit, 1 cup of coffee
  • Lunch. Roast Beef Sandwich on Wheat Bread with Lettuce, Low Fat American Cheese, Tomato and Mayonnaise, Medium Apple, Water
  • Dinner. Salmon, 1.5 tsp vegetable oil, baby baked potatoes, 1/2 cup carrots, 1/2 cup green beans, medium white meal bag, unsweetened iced tea, milk
  • Snack. 2.5 cups popcorn and 1.4 teaspoons margarine

If you have diabetes, it's important to work with your doctor and nutritionist to develop an eating plan that's right for you. Eat healthy foods, control portions, and plan to manage your blood sugar levels.

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