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Nutrition Tips

Having diabetes no longer requires you to follow a special or prescribed diet.  Following a healthy, balanced style of eating is one of the most important things you can do to manage your diabetes.
 
The following nutrition tips for diabetes guidelines will help you control your blood sugar levels. A registered dietitian can help you design an eating plan to meet your personal needs and preferences.
  • Eat at least three times a day.
     
  • Try to eat your meals at about the same time every day. Do not skip meals.
     
  • Eat balanced meals. Include at least three different food groups at every meal.
     
  • Eat sweet and sugary foods only in moderation. This includes baked goods, candy, fruit juices, dried fruits and regular soda.
     
  • Choose vegetables, fruits, dried beans and peas (legumes) and whole grains frequently. These foods are high in fiber and low in fat. They can help keep your cholesterol levels down.
     
  • Limiting fat in your diet may help prevent heart disease, which is common in people who have diabetes. Choose lean cuts of meat and use non-fat or low-fat dairy products. Limit your use of butter, margarine, salad dressing, cream sauce, gravy and fried foods. 

    Nutrition tips video

     

    Need more tips on what to eat? Watch this video from med.wisc.edu to view a presentation on nutrition tips to manage your diabetes.



     
  • Read food labels carefully. The grams of sugar listed on food labels are only a part of the grams of total carbohydrates contained in the food. It is the amount of total carbohydrates, not just sugars, that affect your blood sugar levels. How Does Food Affect Your Blood Sugar? (pdf)
     
  • You may use artificial sweeteners if you wish:

    • Aspartame: EqualTM or NutraSweetTM 
    • Sucralose: SplendaTM
    • Ascesulfame-K: SunnettTM
    • Saccharin: Sweet 'n LowTM
Sugar-free foods may still contain carbohydrate, so be sure to check the food label for total carbohydrate. Sugar alcohols such as sorbitol or mannitol are used in sugarless gum and candies. Sugar alcohols can cause stomach cramping or diarrhea if used in large amounts. Foods with fewer than 20 calories or less than 5 grams of total carbohydrate per serving will have little effect on your blood sugar level, if used in small amounts.
  • Use alcohol in moderation. Discuss your use of alcohol with your health care provider.
     
  • Check your blood sugar levels regularly.
     
  • Regular activity can help lower your blood sugar. Start slowly, especially if you have been inactive in the past. Work up to 20 minutes of nonstop aerobic exercise, at least three times a week. As your fitness level improves, aim for a total of three hours of activity each week. Be sure to discuss your exercise plans with your health care provider, especially if you are a man over age 40 or a woman over age 50.