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Choosing the right foods is a major part of managing diabetes. It's easier to keep track of what you're eating when you're the one in charge of putting nutritious meals on your plate.

Use these 12 tips to get you motivated to cook healthful dinners at home, where you have full control over the foods served and what ingredients go into them.

1. Switch to whole grains.

Use brown rice and whole wheat pasta. Look for 100% whole wheat flour and breads, as well as other grains such as oats and barley. Making the switch can be easy. For instance, there's frozen cooked brown rice that you microwave.

2. Get more fiber.

Aim for at least 8 grams of fiber per meal, especially if you're eating carbohydrate-rich foods. Go for soluble fiber, which is in:

  • Peas
  • Beans
  • Oats
  • Barley
  • Fruits like apples, mangoes, plums, kiwis, pears, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, peaches, citrus fruits, and figs
  • Vegetables like artichokes, celery root, sweet potatoes, parsnips, turnips, acorn squash, potatoes with skin, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, asparagus, and beets

Soluble fiber helps lower the rapid rise in blood sugar that tends to happen after eating carbohydrates. A fiber-rich diet also lowers the risk of heart disease, which is higher in people with diabetes.

3. Replace some carbs with good fat.

Monounsaturated fats -- nuts, avocadoes, olive oil, and canola oil -- can help lower blood sugar. Add nuts and avocado to salads and entrees. Use olive and canola oils to cook dinners. Look for products that contain either oil, such as salad dressings, marinades, marinara, and pesto. Keep portions modest so you don't get too many calories.

4. Eat foods that won't spike blood sugar.

Foods that aren't likely to cause a big rise in blood sugar include meat, poultry, fish, avocados, salad vegetables, eggs, and cheese. Eating these kinds of foods will help balance carbohydrate-containing foods included in your meal.

5. Choose recipes with less saturated fat.

Look for ingredients such as:

  • Fish
  • Extra-lean beef -- grass-fed if available
  • Pork tenderloin
  • Skinless poultry
  • Soy products
  • Beans
  • Low-fat dairy

6. Know the nutritional values in the recipes you use.

Find out the amount of carbohydrates, fiber, and fat per serving. Then stay close to the appropriate portions by serving up your food on small plates.

7. Replace butter and shortening with canola or olive oil.

Both canola oil and olive oil are better choices. Both are rich in monounsaturated fat, and canola oil also has heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

8. Prep for salads ahead of time.

Store a large spinach salad or vegetable-filled romaine lettuce salad without dressing in an airtight container. You can have crisp, wonderful salad with your dinner or as a snack for the next several days.