How to Make a Diabetic Meal Plan

How to Make a Diabetic Meal Plan

A diabetic meal plan tells you what kinds of foods to eat each day to control your diabetes. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends three methods to help you plan your meals: the plate method, carb counting and the glycemic index. Pick the one that works best for you, depending upon time and preference.

Three diabetic meal planning methods

  1. Plate Method: In the plate method, you fill your plate with 25 percent protein, 25 percent grains and starchy foods, and 50 percent non-starchy vegetables. Add a serving of fruit or dairy as a dessert, along with a low-calorie drink like water or unsweetened tea. If you need help visualizing this, the ADA provides a tool on its website to help you create your plate using this method.
  2. Carb Counting: The ADA recommends eating from 45 grams to 60 grams of carbohydrates at every meal. You might need to adjust this amount based on advice from your doctor. Look at food labels to find out how many carbohydrates are in the foods that you eat and use this information to keep the total carbohydrate content of your meals within the recommended range.
  3. Glycemic Index: The glycemic index (GI) is a measure of how much a food raises the amount of glucose in your blood. Diabetics need to avoid spiking their blood glucose levels, as their bodies aren't able to quickly bring it back down to safe levels. Include low GI foods -- such as oatmeal, whole wheat, sweet potato, legumes and non-starchy vegetables -- in your meal plan to help keep your blood glucose stable. Avoid high GI foods, such as white bread, candy and white rice.

Sample meal plan

Here is an example of a diabetic meal plan suggested by the ADA:

  • Breakfast: Whole grain cereal with banana slices
  • Lunch: Spaghetti squash with light marinara sauce
  • Snacks: Deviled eggs, fruit salad, almonds
  • Dinner: Roast chicken, mashed potatoes, salad

Seek professional advice

Making and sticking to a diabetic meal plan can be tough. You might find it helpful to work with a licensed nutritionist to create your meal plan. A nutritionist can give you reliable advice about which foods to eat every day and which ones to save for occasional treats when you have diabetes.

Creating a meal plan can help you eat more healthily and control your diabetes. In general, you should aim to eat a balance of lean protein, low GI carbohydrates and plenty of vegetables. Tools such as the plate method, carbohydrate counting and the glycemic index can help you create a suitable diet plan for managing your diabetes.