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Clinical Nutrition Services

Meal Planning for Diabetes

Small changes in what you eat can help you control your blood sugar, lose weight and feel better. The first step is to work with a dietitian to make a meal plan just for you. As soon as you find out you have diabetes, ask your doctor for a dietitian referral. During this meeting you will learn how to choose healthier foods, portion control and receive help with weight loss if needed. Most insurance companies cover diabetes nutrition education – if you're not sure, we can help you find out.

Healthy Food Choices for Diabetes

Check off the ones you are doing already and choose one to work on now.

  •  Eat meals at regular times and try not to skip meals.
  •  Use a plate to plan meals – half-plate of vegetables, quarter-plate of meat and quarter-plate of starch. A small portion of fruit and dairy on the side. See the picture of the plate.
  •  Drink plenty of water, coffee or tea without added sugar. Avoid pop, juice, sports drinks and energy drinks because they raise your blood sugar.
  •  Ask your dietitian about using regular sugar and sugar replacements.
  •  Avoid saturated fats: chicken skin/wings, cheese, bacon, sausage, ribs, bologna, salami, corned beef, butter and whole milk.
  •  Eat sweets less often. When you do eat sweets, choose smaller portions.
  •  Eat out less often. When you do eat out:
    • Check the restaurant website before you go for nutrition information.
    • Choose smaller portions.
    • Choose baked, grilled or broiled instead of crispy or fried foods.
    • Ask for sauces and dressings on the side.
    • Skip bread and chips before the meal and order a salad instead.
    • Drink plenty of water with your meal.

Use a Plate to Plan your Meals

Using a 9-inch plate to plan your meals and control portions, you can make a difference in your blood glucose levels.

  • At lunch and dinner: Fill half your plate with non-starchy vegetables. Put starchy foods and a lean protein food on the other half of the plate. You may choose fruit and low fat dairy also.
  • At breakfast: Use only half your plate. Put starchy foods on one-quarter of and proteins on the other quarter of the plate. You may choose fruit and low fat dairy also.
Infographic: How to Use a 9-Inch Plate to Plan your Meals

Choose foods from the Instead of this…Eat that…list below

Check off the changes you want to work on now.

Instead of this… Eat that…
  Canned fruit in heavy/light syrup Fresh, frozen or canned “unsweetened” or “no sugar added” fruit
  Canned vegetables Fresh, frozen or canned “no salt added” vegetables
  Whole milk, 2% milk Skim or 1% milk or lactose free milk, unsweetened almond or soy milk
  Full-fat cheeses Light or reduced fat natural cheddar, mozzarella or Swiss cheese, low fat cottage or ricotta cheese
  Cookies, cakes, pies, candy, ice cream Fresh fruit, graham or animal crackers, angel food cake or sponge cake with fruit, low fat frozen yogurt, sugar free gum or mints
  Soda, sport drinks, fruit juice, sweet tea Water, fruit infused waters, diet soda, sugar free flavor packets, any commercial flavored water with no sugars added, unsweetened tea, black coffee
  Processed lunchmeats, hot dogs Low sodium turkey or chicken, canned low sodium tuna, natural peanut butter, leftover home roasted meats, grilled chicken breast, veggie or bean burger
  Fast foods Salads with grilled chicken, burgers without the cheese, side salad instead of French fries, low sugar drinks, fruit
  Butter, stick margarine, sour cream, cream cheese Olive oil, canola oil, margarine in a tub, light sour cream or light cream cheese, plain Greek yogurt
  French fries, macaroni and cheese, potato salad, fried rice Baked white or sweet potato, corn on the cob, small portions of whole wheat pasta with tomato sauce, brown rice with steamed vegetables
  White bread, sweetened cereals, donuts Whole grain breads, bagels, English muffins. Cheerios, oatmeal, shredded wheat, bran flakes, grits

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