Nutrition for Diabetes Management

Many people with diabetes feel that it is not fair that they have to eat a “special” diet.  The fact is that people with diabetes should eat the same way all people should eat.  Everyone thrives on a healthy diet of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, healthy fats and lean proteins.  The only difference is that people with diabetes feel the effects of a poor diet more quickly than other people.  Consider this as a great early warning system.

Food can nourish and sustain us. It can also harm us. As you eat food, it is a good practice to ask “How is this food serving me?” If you can’t think of a good answer, you probably shouldn’t eat it. 

Eat Enough Food

If you are not getting enough calories throughout the day, you may feel tired and irritable. Make sure that you eat three nutritious meals a day and a light snack or two in between.

Avoid Processed Foods

Processed foods can make you feel good for a brief time but then you feel tired and emotionally drained. These processed foods can also make you feel more impulsive and less patient and the repeated use of processed foods starves the parts of the brain that control the impulses. Try to eat real foods like fruits and vegetables as well as grains and meats.

Avoid Low-Carb Diets

Low carbohydrate diets have been linked with irritability and poor mood over time.

Anti-Inflammatory Diet

Overall, the best practice is to eat healthy foods that nourish your body rather than irritating it. Try exploring an Anti-Inflamatory Diet. Making small changes, regularly over time, can make a huge difference in your life, allowing you to feel calmer and healthier. Inflammation in your system can lead to many health concerns such as allergies, headaches, skin irritations, and heart burn, all of which will affect the quality of your life. Explore the link below for ideas on the type of foods that make up an Anti-Inflammatory Diet.

Andrew Weil’s Anti-Inflammatory Diet Food Pyramid


DASH is a flexible and balanced eating plan that helps create a heart-healthy eating style for life.  Explore the website links below to learn more about the DASH Diet

Intro to the DASH Diet

Mayo Clinic DASH Diet Summary


Small healthy snacks throughout the day can help you to maintain your sugar levels in a healthy range.  Talk to a doctor or nutritionist about what snacks may be best for you.  Consider snacks like nuts, fruits, raw vegetables, hummus, yogurt, cheese, nut butters and whole grain crackers.

More Information

For more detailed instructions and worksheets to improve your diet, check out The American Diabetes Association Website as well as Chapter 3: Eating in a Modern World and Chapter 4: The Best Food for You, in Well to Do: A Guide to Take Charge, Set Goals, and Improve Your Health.

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