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What to Eat with Diabetes?

The diaTribe Foundation's Nutrition Principles

The following principles share The diaTribe Foundation’s current views on nutrition, which are reflected in the content on diaTribe. They are constantly evolving and progressive, as they are based on our view of current research, our personal experience living with diabetes, and hundreds of diabetes and obesity scientific conferences since 2002. We believe these principles are evidence-based to minimize blood sugar fluctuations, reduce diabetes burden, and improve diabetes health.

Eat more:

  • Veggies, especially green veggies (avoid potatoes)

  • Nuts and seeds

  • Lean protein (e.g. chicken, fish)

  • Olive oil

  • Avocado

  • Home-cooked food

Avoid:

  • Sugar, or anything with sugar in it – this includes cakes, candy, cookies, most yogurts, regular soda

  • Fruit juice

  • White foods and other high glycemic index foods that increase blood sugar quickly –  e.g., rice, white bread, potatoes, crackers, fries, ice cream

  • Trans fats

  • Packaged foods with long ingredient lists (e.g., 10+)

  • Eating too close to bedtime

Reduce carbohydrate (“carb”) intake:

  • Aim for less than 30 grams of carbs per meal, or approximately 100 grams of carbs per day.  For specific low-carb recipes, click here or read the food chapter of Bright Spots & Landmines.

  • Ultra-low-carb ketogenic diets (e.g., Atkins) are not inherently bad. However, beginning with 100 grams of carbs per day may be a good starting point for most people, especially those eating a higher-carbohydrate diet now. If you decide to move to an ultra-low-carb diet, proceed carefully and work with a doctor and healthcare team to reduce your medication doses appropriately.

Drink:

  • Water (plain or sparkling)

  • Tea (unsweetened)

  • Coffee (unsweetened)

Feel OK about eating, but don’t go crazy:

  • Fermented milk products (with no added sugar) like Greek yogurt

  • Whole fruits

Don’t stress about eating these high-fat foods:

  • Nuts

  • Seeds

  • Olive Oil

  • Dairy

  • Red meat

Alcohol:

  • Unless your doctor says otherwise, up to 1 glass a day for women, 2 a day for men – but best to cut back if possible

  • Be cautious about the variable effects of alcohol on blood glucose – depending on the drink, blood sugar may go up, not change, or go down. Check your glucose frequently with fingersticks or a CGM. Make sure your drinking partners know you have diabetes.

Blood Sugar – Use Your Own Data To Learn What Works:

  • Check glucose 90-120 minutes after eating or drinking and/or wear CGM. This data will help you understand the impact of different foods and medication doses on your glucose. The goal is to understand cause and effect – when I eat ____, what happens to my blood glucose?