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Good news! There is no single “diabetes diet” you have to stick to. The same foods that are good for you are good for everyone else.

With diabetes, though, you do have to track how many carbohydrates you get each day. Carbs affect your blood sugar more than fats or protein. (Still, most people with diabetes have to watch how much fat and protein they get, too.)

Make smart food choices to help keep your blood sugar levels in check. Ask your doctor, a registered dietitian, or a diabetes educator for advice on exactly what you need.

They may recommend that you start using the glycemic index. It ranks how different foods affect blood sugar. Foods at the top of the glycemic index send your blood sugar higher than those lower down on the index.

You can also use these three tips to eat right:

  1. Make your plate colorful. That's an easy way to make sure you eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, and lean protein.
  2. Watch your calories. Your age, gender, and activity level affect how many calories you need to gain, lose, or maintain your weight.
  3. Go for fiber. You get fiber from plant foods: whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, and nuts. Studies suggest that people with type 2 diabetes who eat a high-fiber diet can improve their blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

How Much Can You Eat?

Check serving sizes -- they may be smaller than you think. Eat only the amount of food in your diabetes meal plan. Extra calories lead to extra fat and pounds.

In people with type 2 diabetes, extra fat means your body doesn’t respond as well to insulin.

Do not skip meals. Eat meals and snacks at regular times every day. If you take a diabetes drug, eat your meals and take your medicine at the same times each day.

What Is the TLC Diet for Diabetes?

If you have high cholesterol as well as diabetes, your doctor will probably recommend the TLC (Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes) plan.

The goal is to lower your cholesterol level, drop extra weight, and become more active. That helps prevent heart disease, which is more common in people with diabetes.

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Everyday ways to keep your condition in check.