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Healthy Eating Guidelines for People with Diabetes

Por Lic. Nina Nazor Robles* -

Our blood sugar levels rise and fall throughout the day. For diabetics, one of the most important things they can do, is to keep their blood sugar levels as stable as possible. To achieve this, it is important to select healthy food choices, as well as eat small portions throughout the day. 

Recommendations for a healthy, balanced diet and active lifestyle are the same for a person with diabetes, as they are for anyone else.   

A healthy diet and regular physical activity will help you to:

  • Keep your blood sugar and cholesterol levels in control.
  • Maintain a normal blood pressure level.
  • Improve your general health and well-being.

What to eat and how much

Balance and moderation is the key to any healthy meal plan. People with diabetes can follow the same healthy eating principles given to the general population.

Food can be divided into 4 main groups:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Cereals and whole grain products
  • Dairy products
  • Meat, fish, chicken, eggs, and leguminous beans

For your body to get all of the nutrients it needs, you need to eat foods from these 4 food groups every day.

Fruits and vegetables

Fruit and vegetables give us vitamins, minerals, and fiber. We recommend you eat 5-9 portions of fruits and vegetables a day. Try to eat them in their natural state (fresh rather than canned) and with their skin so that you will get the maximum amount of nutrients from them.

Cereals and breads

These foods consist mainly of carbohydrates in starch form. You can opt for bread, corn tortillas, oatmeal, and whole grain cereals. Whole grain cereals contain more fiber, vitamins, and minerals and are therefore healthier. You should have 6 to 11 servings of cereals or breads a day. One serving is equivalent to one slice of bread, half a cup of oatmeal, one tortilla, or half a cup of cooked rice or pasta.

Dairy products

This group includes milk, yogurt, and cheese. These food items are very important because they provide calcium. Choose skim or low-fat products because whole milk and products made from whole milk contain a lot of fat and cholesterol. The latest recommendation is 2-3 servings (usually one cup servings).

Meat, chicken, fish, and meat substitutes

The meat group includes beef, chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, tofu, dried beans, cheese, cottage cheese and peanut butter. Meat and meat substitutes are great sources of protein and many vitamins and minerals. 

Choose from lean meats, poultry and fish and cut all the visible fat off meat. Keep your portion sizes small. Three ounces is about the size of a deck of cards. You only need 4-6 ounces for the whole day.

Choose 4-6 oz per day divided between meals

Equal to 1 oz of meat:
¼ cup cottage cheese
1 egg
1 tbsp peanut butter
½ cup tofu

The following are general recommendations for a healthy and well-balanced diet without excess:

  • Drink plenty of liquids each day. The general recommendation is 2-3 liters a day. Half of these liquids should be water. The others can be sugar-free fruit juices, soups, or teas.
  • Choose whole grain cereals. Eat whole grain bread, pasta, oats or rice.
  • Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables of different colors every day. Choose colors such as green, yellow, red, and orange to make sure your body gets enough vitamins and minerals.
  • Choose whole fruits instead of juices. Juice may be natural, but often contains a lot of sugar and very little fruit fiber.
  • Use fats and oils sparingly. Use olive or canola oil. Eat avocados, nuts, olives and fish, since the fat they contain is better for your health. Avoid eating meat and meat products that have a lot of fat such as pork, beef, chicken skin, and fatty processed meat.
  • Minimize the amount of candy and desserts you eat. You can still eat sugar if you have diabetes, but in moderation. Consult your registered dietitian about how much you can eat.
  • To help keep your blood sugar levels stable throughout the day, eat 3 main meals a day with healthy snacks in between.

A customized plan

In order to know the exact amount of food you should eat, a customized menu plan adapted to your needs, preferences, and schedules, such as the one we offer at MyDiet™. You can also have your registered dietitian design one for you.

*Nutritionist from the MyDiet™ Team


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