headshot of liz wilson elizabeth wilson in dark blue shirt with polka dots smiling

Written by Elizabeth W., Diabetes Educator

Elizabeth is a Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist at NMC Health.

Eating healthy is important, especially when you’re managing diabetes.  Even though there’s not a simple “magic diet” for diabetes, there are several well studied eating patterns that have proven A1c reduction.  So, what is an eating pattern?  An eating pattern is simply a combination of different foods or food groups.  Key food choices include lean protein, non-starchy vegetables, fruits, whole grains, & healthy fats.  Choosing whole foods over highly processed foods and minimizing added sugars & refined grains is recommended.  My simple equation is this:  each meal should include lean protein, healthy carbohydrate, healthy fat, and fiber from non-starchy vegetables. 

At the end of the day, my goal is for each person to find a meal pattern that works best for them.  Meals should be healthy, tasty, help you manage your blood sugar, and help you to reach your health goals. 

Below are some ideas of applying a balanced pattern to your meals, but do keep into account your specific nutrient needs.  If you have questions about how much you should be consuming, please schedule an appointment with your registered dietitian (RD) or certified diabetes care and education specialist/certified diabetes educator (CDCES/CDE). 

Breakfast

Eating a balanced breakfast can lead to better blood sugar management throughout your day.  There are studies that suggest skipping breakfast can lead to increased blood sugar levels after lunch and supper (study was done on individuals with type 2 diabetes).  And for those on scheduled insulin doses or medications that stimulate insulin release, skipping meals in general can increase risk of hypoglycemia.

For breakfast, focus on lean protein, healthy fat, and healthy carbohydrate (high in fiber).  Sneaking in non-starchy vegetables is always a bonus!  Traditional breakfast foods (like cereal, pastries, muffins, bagels, etc) tend in include large amounts of added sugars.  Be sure to look for added sugar on the food label and limit how much you consume.  Here are some ideas you could add to your breakfast routine:

waitress carrying two bowls of salad with leafy greens and tomatoes and mixed veggies on top as a healthy food option

Lunch

For many, lunch tends to be rushed.  Ideally, each lunch should still include lean protein, healthy carbohydrate, healthy fat, and fiber from non-starchy vegetables.  Here are some ideas to add to your lunch routine:

delicious health food recipe on plate meat with taomatoes and asparagus carb counting diet and exercise for managing diabetes

Supper

Similar to lunch, supper time also tends to be rushed.  To make meals easier, set aside some time to make a weekly grocery list and meal prep a few items ahead of time.  Again, each supper should still include lean protein, healthy carbohydrate, healthy fat, and fiber from non-starchy vegetables.  Here are some ideas to add to your supper routine:

Snacks

Just like our main meals, snacks should still be balanced and contain lean protein, healthy carbohydrate, & healthy fat.  Think of ways to fit in more vegetables and fruit with your snacks. 

  • Apple with peanut butter
  • Light popcorn and almonds
  • Cut raw vegetables with hummus
  • Cottage cheese & fruit
  • Rice cakes and peanut butter
  • Orange & sting cheese
  • Hard-boiled egg and cut raw vegetables

If you’d like more meal ideas, be sure of join us this Thursday for diabetes support group.  We have meetings the second Thursday of every month. The virtual meetings start at 11am for the and in-person meeting at noon.  If you are interested in attending, please fill out this form

References: 

American Diabetes Association: Diabetes Food Hub

Diabetes Care 2015 Oct;38(10):1820-6. doi: 10.2337/dc15-0761. Epub 2015 Jul 28.

Nutrition Therapy for Adults with Diabetes or Prediabetes:  A Consensus Report