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Diabetes Diet and Nutrition

It is important for people with diabetes to prepare balanced meals and make healthy food choices. Learn more below about how to manage diabetes through nutrition and meal planning.

What is a healthy diet for diabetes?

Patients with diabetes should focus on an overall healthy and balanced diet to manage their diabetes. Having a variety of nutritious foods and being careful with portion size are essential to a diabetes-friendly diet. Avoid heavily processed foods and select foods rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber instead.

How do carbohydrates affect diabetes?

Carbohydrates have the greatest effect on blood glucose levels in the body. Decreasing foods that are high in carbohydrates can help you manage blood glucose levels. Foods that are high in carbohydrates include:

  • Grains, such as rice, oatmeal and barley
  • Grain-based foods, such as pasta, cereal, bread and crackers
  • Starchy vegetables, such as potatoes and corn
  • Milk and yogurt
  • Sweets, such as candy, soda, cakes, cookies and chips

How do I make a diabetes meal plan?

A good diabetes meal plan balances the carbohydrates you eat with your body's energy requirements insulin levels. One plan does not fit all when it comes to diabetes meal planning. Talk to you doctor about a meal plan that meets your personal needs, schedule, and food preferences. Some types of diabetes meal-planning methods include:

  • Carbohydrate-counting
  • Exchange system
  • Glycemic index
  • Plate method

A healthy diet can benefit everyone in the family so it is not necessary to prepare separate meals. Nutrition guidelines for people with diabetes are flexible and offer a variety of options. A healthy eating plan that allows occasional sweets will provide adequate nutrition but will also not leave you feeling deprived of favorite treats.

Feeling frustrated about your diet?

Learn how to cope with negative feelings about your diet with diabetes.

At risk but not yet diagnosed?

The MaineHealth Diabetes Prevention Program offers free classes to help people lower their chance of developing type 2 diabetes and other serious health problems, like heart disease or stroke.

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