Joslin Answers Your Questions

Joslin Diabetes Center experts answer commonly asked questions about diabetes monitoring, treatment, self-care, meal planning, and more.
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Topic: Meal Planning and Diet
Question: What can I eat? What can't I eat?

Answer: Food selection for people with diabetes is much easier than in the past. That's because we now know that there is no need for a "diabetic diet."

People with diabetes can—and should—eat the same foods as people without diabetes. These tips can help:
  • Focus on eating fruits; vegetables; whole-grain foods, such as high-fiber cereals, whole-grain bread, brown rice, and pasta; skim or low-fat milk and yogurt; lean meat, poultry, and fish; and heart-healthy fats, such as trans fat-free margarine, olive or canola oil, and nuts and seeds.
  • Go easy with red meats, cheeses, fried foods, high-fat snack foods, and desserts, such as ice cream, cake, and cookies.
  • Choose beverages that contain little or no carbohydrate, such as water or seltzer water, diet soft drinks, vegetable juice, coffee, and tea.
  • Limit fruit juices, regular soda and other soft drinks, and sports drinks because they contain a lot of carbohydrate and a lot of calories.

The key to diabetes meal planning is to focus on eating about the same amount of carbohydrate (found in starchy foods, fruits, vegetables, and milk) at your meals and snacks each day. Compared to protein and fat, carbohydrate is actually the nutrient that has the most impact on your blood glucose levels.

It's also important to try to eat meals at about the same times every day and to not skip meals. Meeting with a registered dietitian is very helpful, as he or she can help you develop an eating plan that's tailored to your food likes and dislikes, your eating schedule, any diabetes medications you are taking, and your weight and blood glucose goals.

Learn more about making healthy food choices.

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