diabetes nutrition

What are the Nutritional Recommendations for People with Diabetes? – Nov. 22, 2020

When it comes to a diabetes nutrition plan, you might feel confused or overwhelmed. But all it means is eating healthy, whole foods in moderation and avoiding snacking between meals. A diabetes diet contains rich nutrients and is low in fat, sugar, and calories. Whole foods are key—think fruits, vegetables, proteins and whole grains. At One Community Health in Sacramento, we have nutritionists and classes that can help you get on the right path to healthy eating so that you can focus on living your life. 

Diabetes Nutrition 101 

A whole-food diet can help control your blood sugar (glucose), manage your weight and control heart disease risk factors, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. When you eat extra calories and fat, your blood glucose level rises. If blood glucose isn’t managed, it can lead to hyperglycemia—high blood sugar. If untreated, this can lead to serious long-term complications, such as nerve, kidney and heart damage.

Being overweight or obese is the biggest risk factor for type 2 diabetes. And your risk is even higher if you tend to have excess weight in your abdomen rather than the hips and thighs. Belly fat around the abdominal organs and liver and is correlated with increased insulin resistance.  Losing abdominal weight can make it easier to control your blood sugar levels.

What does a diabetes nutrition plan involve?

You can help control your blood glucose levels by making healthy food choices and tracking the food you eat. A diabetes diet is based on eating three meals a day at consistent times. This helps your body use insulin more efficiently. 

Recommended foods:

Healthy carbohydrates. Sugars (simple carbohydrates) break down into glucose in the body and can raise blood sugar levels. Focus on healthy carbohydrates, such as:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Legumes 


Low-fat dairy products, such as milk and cheese. 
Fiber-rich foods. Dietary fiber is made up of the parts of plant foods that your body is unable to digest or absorb and helps control blood sugar levels. Foods high in fiber include:

  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Nuts
  • Legumes
  • Whole grains
  • Heart-healthy fish. You should eat fish at least twice a week. Fish such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which may prevent heart disease. Avoid fried fish and fish with high levels of mercury, such as king mackerel and tuna as much as possible. 


‘Good’ fats. Foods containing healthy fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats) can help improve your ‘bad’ cholesterol levels. These include:

  • Avocados
  • Nuts
  • Healthy oils, such as olive and avocado oil


Foods to Avoid

Diabetes increases your risk of heart disease and stroke. Eating these foods can further increase that risk:

Saturated fats. Avoid high-fat dairy products and animal proteins such as butter, beef, hot dogs, sausage and bacon. 

Trans fats. Avoid trans fats found in processed snacks, baked goods, fried foods, shortening and margarines.

Cholesterol. Foods that contain cholesterol include high-fat dairy products and high-fat animal proteins, egg yolks, and organ meats. Aim for 200 milligrams (mg) of cholesterol, or less, a day.

Sodium. You should be consuming less than 2,300 mg of sodium a day. That number should be even lower if you have high blood pressure. Your doctor can let you know what your ideal sodium intake should be. 

Sugar and refined carbohydrates. Calories in fructose (found in sugary beverages such as soda, energy and sports drinks, coffee drinks, and processed foods like doughnuts, muffins, cereal, candy and granola bars) are more likely to add weight around your abdomen.

Diabetes Nutrition in Sacramento 

Our Behavioral Health and Nutrition staff at One Community Health offer a variety of group education opportunities where patients can provide support to one another. Our nutritionists can also help you put together an individual diet plan based on your health goals, tastes and lifestyle. If you are looking for help with controlling your diabetes—or lowering your risk of developing diabetes—through nutrition, give us a call today

Photo by Caroline Attwood on Unsplash

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