Fruits and vegetables fill a wooden, heart-shaped bowl next to a diet log and blood sugar tracking devices

Diabetes and Nutrition

A healthy diet is essential to managing your diabetes and preventing related complications associated with type 2 diabetes. 

What is a healthy diet?

A healthy diet consists of various foods that give your body the nutrients it needs to maintain good health. Those nutrients include proteins, carbohydrates, fats, water, vitamins, and minerals.

If you have diabetes, here is a list of items that should be on your shopping list: 


Carbohydrates or “carbs” are essential in managing your diabetes because carbs break down into sugar and can impact your blood sugar levels. Food and drinks contain three main carbohydrate types: starches, sugar, and fiber. Some examples include:

  • Grains such as rice, pasta, and bread
  • Fruits such as apples, blueberries, and cantaloupe
  • Starchy vegetables such as corn, green beans, and sweet potatoes
  • Beans including black beans, kidney beans, chickpeas
  • Sugary drinks such as sweet tea, juice, and soda
  • Sweets and snack foods like soda, cake, cookies, and candy

It is best to eat carbs that are high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals and low in sugar, unhealthy fats, and sodium, such as:

  • Non-starchy vegetables – lettuce, broccoli, cucumbers, green beans. Limited amounts of whole, minimally processed carbohydrates – fruits, brown rice, oatmeal, beans, and starchy vegetables


Fiber-rich foods are beneficial in controlling blood sugar levels as they take longer to break down and slow the breakdown of carbohydrates into sugars in the blood. Some fiber-rich foods are apples, beans, lentils, whole grain/seeded bread, oatmeal, chia seeds, and raspberries.


Protein is an essential nutrient for balancing blood glucose levels. Adding protein to mealtime slows down how quickly your body digests carbohydrates and lowers your blood glucose levels after meals.

It also helps you feel fuller for extended periods. Focus on eating lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, beans, soy products, seeds, and nuts such as:

  • Chicken and turkey – Tuna, salmon, tilapia, and shellfish
  • Sirloin steak, lamb, and veal – Whole eggs and egg whites
  • Low-fat ground beef – Reduced-fat cheese or cottage cheese

You should limit or avoid the following:

Alcoholic Beverages

Alcoholic beverages, such as beer, wine and liquor, are high in carbohydrates which can raise blood sugar levels. If you take insulin or oral diabetic medications, alcohol can reduce your blood sugars, causing hypoglycemia.

  • Women should avoid having more than one alcoholic beverage a day.
  • Men should avoid having more than two alcoholic beverages a day.


For individuals with diabetes, paying attention to their fat intake is vital in reducing the risk of heart-related complications, for example, high cholesterol. Like protein, healthy fats aid in slowing down the breakdown of carbohydrates to lower blood sugars. Avoid high-fat foods like:

  • Butter or margarine 
  • High-fat ground beef
  • High-fat dairy products 
  • Fast or take-out foods
  • Cream sauces

Be mindful of the type of fats you are consuming. Focus on eating mono-unsaturated and polyunsaturated fats such as:

  • Nuts like almonds, pecans, cashews, and peanuts
  • Oils like coconut, olive, avocado, canola, safflower, and peanut
  • Avocado, peanut butter, olives, and chia seeds

Limit saturated and trans fats as they increase the risk of heart-related complications. Examples of saturated fats include red meats, butter, cheese, and ice cream. Examples of trans fats include processed foods such as fried foods, store-bought baked goods, and sugary cereals.

Living With Diabetes and Seeking Support

Diabetes management can require important changes in blood sugar monitoring, medication, diet and exercise that might initially feel overwhelming. Over time, managing your diabetes can become routine. Building a healthy lifestyle by making small changes can have a significant and lasting impact.

At Elderplan, we value the health and wellness of our members. Knowing the basics about specific health conditions may help you be more aware of the risk factors to look for.

If you are an Elderplan Member and need help to manage diabetes, contact Member Services; you may benefit from the Elderplan/HomeFirst Diabetes Management Program.

If you are not a Member, please explore our health plan options to see if there is a plan that may suit your needs. 

Additional Resources

Diabetes and You

Learn about diabetes and how to manage it before it becomes a serious health problem.

All Resources