Foods To Eat In Type 2 Diabetes

icon-blog By -Dr. Aaksha Shukla
icon-blog By -February 19, 2024


Foods To Eat In Type 2 Diabetes

The type of food you consume has a significant impact on your blood sugar. That's true for everyone, but if you have diabetes, you probably understand it better than anyone else. When you consume unnecessary calories, particularly carbohydrates (carbs), your blood sugar levels rise. Regularly high blood sugar levels can cause serious, long-term complications, including nerve, kidney, and heart damage.

You can control your blood sugar levels by consuming healthy foods at regular intervals and keeping track of your eating habits. When you eat healthy foods on a regular basis, you train your body to use the insulin it produces (or receives from medication) more effectively.
This will help you control your blood sugar and lower your risk of developing long-term problems. Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are the foundation of a healthy eating plan. They can help you keep your blood sugar under control. (Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are the foundation of a healthy eating plan. They can help you keep your blood sugar under control. There is no single diet or eating plan that works for everyone with diabetes. Your goal is to come up with an eating plan that helps you:

  • Eat a range of nutritious foods in the appropriate portion sizes to help you meet your blood pressure, cholesterol, and A1c (a test that indicates your average blood sugar levels over the previous three months) goals, as agreed upon by you and your doctor.
  • Get to and maintain the weight you and your doctors have agreed on.
  • Slow or stop the progression of any potential long-term complications from high blood sugar.

Why Do You Need To Develop A Healthy Eating Plan?

If you have diabetes or prediabetes, your doctor will most likely recommend that you consult a nutritionist to build a healthy eating plan. The plan assists you in controlling your blood sugar (also known as blood glucose), managing your weight, and reducing your risk of heart disease. These factors include high blood pressure and high blood fat levels.
When you consume more calories and carbohydrates, your blood sugar levels increase. If blood sugar is not regulated, it might cause major complications. Hyperglycemia is a condition characterized by elevated blood sugar levels. If this high level persists for an extended period of time, it might cause long-term consequences such as nerve, kidney, and heart damage. You can help keep your blood sugar levels within a safe range. Make healthy food selections and monitor your eating habits.For the majority of people with type 2 diabetes, losing weight can help them control their blood sugar. Weight loss provides numerous other health benefits. A healthy eating plan gives you a well-organized, nutritious strategy to safely achieve your weight loss goal.

What Does A Diet For People With Diabetes Involve?

A diabetic diet consists of consuming healthy meals regularly. Eating meals at regular intervals helps the body better use the insulin that it produces or obtains from medication.
A licensed dietician can assist you in creating a diet that is tailored to your health objectives, preferences, and lifestyle. The dietician can also discuss how to modify your eating habits. Options include selecting portion sizes that are appropriate for your size and activity level.

The Best Diet for People With Diabetes

It may take some time to establish the ideal eating pattern for you, but a good place to start is to consult your diabetes doctor about the following diets: According to studies, these diets can help diabetics meet their blood sugar, heart health, and weight loss goals. Whatever diet appeals to you, consult your doctor before making any changes. Regardless of what you consume, you must track it and understand how it affects your insulin levels.

Dietary Approaches To Hypertension (DASH diet)

More than 20 years ago, researchers at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute developed the DASH eating plan to help patients manage their blood pressure without using medication. Since then, numerous studies have demonstrated that adopting the DASH diet can lower blood pressure and LDL ("bad") cholesterol levels. High blood pressure and LDL cholesterol are two risk factors for heart disease (particularly prevalent in diabetics). The DASH eating plan focuses on vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, while also including fat-free or low-fat dairy products, fish, chicken, beans, nuts, and vegetable oils. You restrict saturated fat-rich foods such as fatty meats, full-fat dairy products, tropical oils (coconut, palm kernel, and palm oils), as well as sugar-sweetened beverages and sweets. This diet is practical because it requires no special foods or supplements, and it is a healthy way to provide nourishment for the entire family.

For a person with a goal of 2,000 calories per day, the DASH diet recommends the following serving sizes and daily or weekly serving limits:

Vegetables 1/2 cup raw or cooked vegetables, 1/2 cup of vegetable juice, or 2 cups of leafy greens
Fruits (1/2 cup fresh, frozen, canned, or dried fruit or 1/2 cup of fruit juice): 4-5 per day
Whole grains (1/2 cup cooked rice, pasta, or cooked cereal; 1 oz dry pasta or rice; 1 slice of bread; or 1 cup of ready-to-eat cereal): 6-8 per day
Fat-free or low-fat dairy (1 cup milk or yogurt or 1½ oz (about the size of four dice or a 9-volt battery) of cheese): 2-3 per day
Fish, poultry, or lean meats (3 oz, or about the size of a deck of cards or the palm of your hand; 2 egg whites or 1 whole egg): 6 or fewer per day
Nuts, seeds, or beans (1 tablespoon of peanut butter, 1/2 oz of nuts or seeds, or 1/4 cup cooked beans):4-5 per week
Fats and oils (1 tablespoon): 2-3 per day
Sweets and added sugars about 100-150 calories per serving): 5 or fewer per week

Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean diet is a heart-healthy eating plan centered on foods grown in nations surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. According to research, the Mediterranean diet can lower your risk of heart disease, metabolic syndrome (a collection of diseases that increase your risk of heart disease and stroke), diabetes, certain malignancies, and depression. It may also help you lose weight while reducing insulin resistance and inflammation. People with high blood sugar may have inflammation in their bodies, and lowering it may help prevent some of the long-term complications of diabetes. The Mediterranean diet emphasizes a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts. You use extra-virgin olive oil instead of butter or other oils. You should avoid dairy products, red meat, sweets, added sugars, sodium (salt), and highly processed foods. Additional tips include eating seasonal vegetables and reading food labels to avoid added sodium and sugar.
For people on a Mediterranean diet, it recommends the following serving sizes and daily or weekly serving limits:

DASH Diet (2000 Calories)

Vegetables 1 cup raw vegetables, 1/2 cup cooked vegetables, or 2 cups of leafy vegetables): 4 or more per day
Fruits (1 medium piece of fruit or 1 cup of cut fruit): 2-3 per day
Whole grains 1 slice of bread, 1 cup of readymade cereal, or 1/2 cup of cooked rice or pasta): 3 oz per day
Fat-free or low-fat dairy 1½ oz of cheese -- about the size of four dice): 2 per day
Fish, poultry, or lean meats 3-5 oz /  3 or more per week for fish, no more than 9-28 oz per week for meat or poultry
Nuts, seeds, or beans 1/4 cup of unsalted nuts or seeds or 1/2 cup of beans): 4 per week for nuts or seeds or 3-4 per week for beans
Fats and oils Swap out saturated and trans fats with polyunsaturated fats, such as olive oil

Flexitarian Diet

This is a flexible option for a completely vegetarian diet. According to studies, eating less meat and other animal-based foods will help you lower your A1c, body weight, total cholesterol, and LDL cholesterol levels. A meta-analysis of research showed that people with type 2 diabetes who ate a vegetarian diet had considerably lower A1c readings than those who ate a nonvegetarian diet. The Flexitarian diet emphasizes eating healthy, plant-based meals with less meat and fewer processed foods and beverages. When you eat meat, you choose fish and leaner cuts of beef, chicken, or turkey.

One word of caution: if you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), this may not be the best option for you because vegetarian diets contain a lot of carbohydrates known as fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols (FODMAPs), which can be difficult to digest. Healthcare professionals may advise you to follow a low-FODMAP diet if you have IBS.

Ornish Diet

This diet is vegetarian, low-fat, and low in refined sugar. Dean Ornish, MD, developed this diet in 1977 to help enhance general health and quality of life. Because the goal is to improve your total health, it is more than just a diet. You're also advised to exercise regularly, manage your stress in healthy ways, and maintain personal relationships. One study found that people with diabetes and heart disease who followed the Ornish lifestyle plan lost weight, blood pressure, total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, A1c, and fasting blood sugar levels. The Ornish diet focuses on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and limited amounts of nonfat dairy. You eliminate simple carbohydrates (such as sweets), saturated fats, and the majority of meat-based proteins.

The diet can be difficult for some people to stick to for an extended period of time since it is so low-fat (less than 10% of your daily calories), but there are some meal plans that allow for greater flexibility. If you and your doctor agree that a more flexible plan is working for you, it may be easier to transition to a more restrictive plan over time.

The Best Foods For People With Diabetes

Following a healthy meal plan is one of the most significant measures you can take to help keep your blood sugar in the normal range. A healthy meal plan includes more than just what you eat. It also matters how much you eat and when you eat it. This is because you need to monitor your blood sugar levels and how your diet affects them.
Here are some suggestions for better food choices that you can incorporate into your normal diet if you have diabetes:


This includes both starchy and non-starchy vegetables. Vegetables contain carbohydrates, which are the primary source of energy for your body. Starchy vegetables, often known as complex carbs, provide you with vitamins, minerals, and fiber. For example, choosing whole grains over refined white flour provides more nourishment for the same calories and can help you maintain a lower blood sugar level.
Non-starchy vegetables are among the healthiest types of carbohydrates because they contain a lot of fiber. And unless you add salt or oil, they contain very little of either.

Better choices for starchy vegetables include:

Foods made from whole grains (wheat, brown rice, oats, cornmeal, barley, or quinoa), such as bread, pasta, cereal, or tortillas
Potatoes, corn, and green peas

Better choices for non-starchy vegetables include:

  • Fresh vegetables, such as broccoli, carrots, peppers, and tomatoes—eat them fresh, mildly cooked, roasted, or grilled.
  • Plain frozen veggies, mildly steamed
  • Greens like kale, spinach, and arugula.
  • Tabouli and other nutrient-dense salads
  • Low-sodium or unsalted canned vegetables

When selecting veggies, look for a variety of colors, including dark greens, red or orange (carrots or red peppers), whites and yellows (onions), and even purple (eggplant).

Fruits: They provide the vitamins and minerals you need. The majority of them are naturally low in fat and salt. However, they tend to have more carbohydrates than vegetables.

Better options for fruit include:

  • Fresh fruits, such as apples, oranges, bananas, grapes, melon, and berries.
  • Plain, frozen, or canned fruit with no extra sugar.
  • Jam, jelly, or preserves containing little or no added sugar
  • Apple sauce without additional sugar.

Protein: You have a lot of options here, but avoid salted and processed meats like salami, which are unhealthy for your blood pressure and heart health. Diabetes increases your risk of developing high blood pressure and heart disease.
Better protein choices may include:

  • Plant-based proteins include beans, peanuts, and tofu.
  • Fish and seafood, including salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines.
  • Chicken and other poultry.
  • Eggs

If you eat meat, be sure it is minimal in fat. Trim the skin off the poultry. Even if you are not a vegetarian or vegan, try to incorporate some plant-based protein into your diet. You will receive minerals and fiber that are not found in animal products.

Dairy: If you have diabetes, the best dairy options are low-fat and nonfat.

Better options include:

  • Low-fat Greek yogurt.
  • Nonfat milk.
  • Vegetarian milk alternatives (for example, oat, almond, soy, or macadamia milk).

Fats and Oils: They are difficult to resist since they are delectable. This makes it easier to overeat and gain weight, which might make it difficult to control your blood sugar. There are several types of fats, including saturated and unsaturated fats.

Large amounts of saturated fats are not good for your health. However, including a small amount in your diet is acceptable. Some experts recommend limiting saturated fat to less than 10% of your daily calories.

Trans fats are unhealthy for your heart. They are so unhealthy that they are prohibited from most foods in the United States. Check the ingredient list for anything that is "partially hydrogenated," even if the label indicates it contains no trans fat. Trans fats are produced when partially hydrogenated fats are processed.

Better choices for fats and oils may include:

  • Natural sources of vegetable fats, such as nuts, seeds, and avocados (heavy in calories, therefore keep quantities small),.
  • Foods containing omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna, or mackerel
  • Canola, grapeseed, or olive oil.

Sweets: Sugary foods can cause harmful fluctuations in blood sugar levels. Most veggies and whole grains have carbohydrates that have a lower impact on your blood sugar, and the fiber helps you digest them slowly. This will keep your blood sugar from becoming too high. A small piece of candy, pie, cake, or other sweet treat is acceptable once in a while. However, it is often preferable to choose healthier options. For example, if you're at a party, you can replace a slice of cake or a scoop of ice cream with a healthier carb like dried fruits or plantains. Foods with artificial sweeteners are one way to fulfill your needs while avoiding carbohydrates and calories.

Artificial sweeteners can be safe in tiny doses, as long as you monitor your blood sugar levels. Other options contain carbs that are absorbed into the blood more slowly than table sugar, so they represent less of a risk to your blood sugar levels.

Better options for sweets include:

  • Fresh juice, like orange or passionfruit.
  • Low-carb foods in modest portions, such as strawberry salsa.
  • Desserts containing natural sweeteners

After a few weeks without sugar, your body and taste buds will adapt. You will not crave as much. Fruits and other natural sugars will taste sweeter.

Drinks: When you drink your favorite beverage, you may consume more calories or fat than you anticipated. Read the labels to find out how many servings there are and what ingredients are in them.

Better choices for drinks include:

  • Water
  • Coffee, black or with low-fat milk and a sugar replacement
  • unsweetened tea with or without a wedge of lemon.
  • Sweet lassi with low sugar.
  • Light beer, modest portions (3-5 oz) of wine, or non-fruity mixed drinks
  • Zero-calorie sodas

When you have diabetes, there are no meals that are absolutely off-limits. However, you may need to adapt your diet to limit your favorite foods or enjoy them as a special treat.

Try To Limit These Foods When You Have Diabetes


Limit highly processed starches, such as:

  • White rice
  • Foods made with refined, white flour, such as loaf bread, flour tortillas, or Naan
  • Fried vegetables, such as french fries or tempura
  • Fried white-flour tortilla chips

Limit these kinds of non-starchy vegetables:

  • Canned vegetables with lots of added sodium
  • Veggies cooked with lots of added butter, cheese, or sauce
  • Pickles and sauerkraut with high sodium


Limit artificially sweetened fruits, such as:

  • Canned fruit with heavy sugar syrup
  • Chewy fruit rolls
  • Regular jam, jelly, and preserves (unless you have a very small portion)
  • Sweetened fruit gummies


Limit the following less-healthy protein choices, such as:

  • Red and processed meats, such as beef, pork, goat, lamb, hot dogs, sausages, brats, cured ham, cold cuts, and packaged lunch meat
  • Foods with a lot of cholesterol, such as liver and other organ meats and egg yolks
  • Fried meats
  • Higher-fat cuts of meat, such as ribs
  • Pork bacon
  • Poultry with skin
  • Deep-fried fish or tofu
  • Beans prepared with lard


Limit full-fat dairy products, such as:

  • Whole or 2% milk
  • Creme fraiche
  • Butter
  • Full-fat, hard cheeses, such as cheddar, Colby, and Swiss cheese

Fats and Oils

Limit the following:

  • Foods with partially hydrogenated oils (trans fats), such as margarine and vegetable shortening
  • Tropical oils that have a lot of saturated fat, such as coconut and palm kernel oil
  • Bacon grease


Limit these processed treats:

  • Regular pancake or waffle syrup
  • Deep-fried desserts, such as churros or funnel cakes
  • Candy
  • Tarts and puddings
  • Processed snacks
  • Cookies and other baked goods


Limit these beverages:

  • Coffee with cream or sugar, flavored coffee, and chocolate drinks
  • Sweetened tea
  • Drinks with added sugar, such as juice, regular soda, and regular sports or energy drinks
  • Alcohol (drink no more than 1-2 drinks a day depending on your size and weight, and don't drink on an empty stomach because alcohol can make your blood sugar drop too low).


What you eat can have a significant impact on your blood sugar levels. Following a healthy meal plan and monitoring your blood sugar levels are two of the most critical things you can do to help keep your blood sugar within your goal range. No single diet or eating style will work for everyone with diabetes, but no items are absolutely off-limits. You can substitute harmful foods with healthier alternatives while reserving your sweets calories for occasional indulgence. Consult your doctor, who can assist you in developing a strategy that meets your health goals while also taking into account your preferences and lifestyle. Living with type 2 diabetes does not mean giving up flavor or excitement in your meals. Remember that food is your fuel, and making informed decisions will allow you to control your health and thrive. Accept these delicious and nutritious options, try new dishes, and enjoy the benefits of eating properly and feeling your best!


What foods are sugar free?

Mushrooms, spinach, kale, soybean sprouts, celery, broccoli, cucumber, cauliflower, radishes, and asparagus are among the vegetables with the lowest sugar content available. Seafood, pork, beef, and chicken are all sugar-free. They're also an important source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids.

What are 3 rules of a diabetic diet?

Eat healthy, fiber-rich foods, be mindful of your portion sizes, and eat at regular mealtimes. By following these three rules, you'll be better equipped to meet your goal of maintaining good blood sugar control while avoiding dreaded large spikes and drops in our blood sugar.

What not to eat type 2 diabetes?

It's best to avoid foods labeled 'diabetic' or 'suitable for diabetics', and eating too much red and processed meat or highly processed carbs like white bread. Cutting down on these means you're reducing your risk of certain cancers and heart diseases.

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