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Meal Planning Tips for People with Type 2 Diabetes

Putting It All Together

If you have diabetes, SparkPeople highly recommends that you work directly with a Registered Dietitian or Certified Diabetes Educator to receive comprehensive training in diabetes self-management. Together you can develop a diabetes meal plan based on your health goals, tastes, and lifestyle—as well as the latest guidelines for healthy eating. Below are examples of two different meal planning systems; your registered dietitian can help you decide which is best for you.

1. Carbohydrate Counting is the most accurate meal planning system for controlling blood sugar levels. Essentially, carbohydrate counting is a way to “budget” the amount of carbohydrate eaten at any meal or snack. This method allows you to choose any type of carbohydrate foods, as long as the portion size you choose allows you stay within your goal “budget.” In general, about half of your daily calories should come from carbohydrate foods. However, if you have diabetes, it is important to eat roughly the same amount of carbohydrate at each meal. Commonly recommended “budgets” are 30 to 45 grams (2 to 3 servings) of carbohydrate per meal for women and 45 to 60 grams (3-4 servings) per meal for men. Both women and men should limit snacks to 15 to 30 grams (1 to 2 servings) of carbohydrates. (Click here for a printable reference chart of carbohydrate servings.) Your Registered Dietitian will determine the right amount of carbohydrates for you, along with guidelines for protein and fat intake.

In addition to carbohydrate budgeting, it is important to space your meals and snacks evenly throughout the day to keep blood sugar levels stable. Experts recommend waiting at least two hours (but no more than five hours) between meals and snacks during the day. This will help prevent your blood sugar level from going too high or too low.
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About The Author

Becky Hand Becky Hand
Becky is a registered and licensed dietitian with almost 20 years of experience. A certified health coach through the Cooper Institute with a master's degree in health education, she makes nutrition principles practical, easy-to-apply and fun. See all of Becky's articles.

Member Comments

  • I am working on reversing type 2 diabetes without medications
    - 8/4/2014 5:39:25 PM
    "Create Your Plate" is a new method recommended by American Diabetes Association for meal planning, I saw an infographic explaining this (http://www.dietp
    iabetic-diet/2/), but the steps are slightly different from the above. - 10/2/2013 4:19:44 AM
  • I don't carb count. Since going vegetarian, I've had consistent A1C test scores of 5.3-5.5. I've been vegetarian for two years and my cholestrol is 137 total. Best choice of my life and I can't ever think of going back to eating any meat. - 8/12/2013 6:48:58 AM
  • I use the plate method, and count the carbs within my plate. - 7/20/2013 9:26:50 AM
  • Very good information. Will use it to start my meal planning:) - 5/1/2013 6:27:49 AM
  • It's all about balance and control.

    I have known for 10 years that I'm pre-diabetic from confirmed blood tests and from a family history of diabetes with some members on insulin.

    Controlling my diet with grain foods, limiting fat intake, good cooking methods (no fries, roasting foods) and with an exercise programme, I have managed to keep the blood sugar within limits. Sometimes I go off the rail but get back quite quickly.My weight needs to be dropped to ensure healthier living.

    Recently, my exercise programme altered as I have an arthritic knee. Now the challenge is on to exercise without stressing the knee-cap.

    My Sparksport coach gave me good advice which is getting me back on track. Regular exercise using dumbells - rhythmic stretches and lunges without high impact on the knee, is my aim.

    Perserverance will enable me to win! Thanks to my coach, Brian Schiff, for his expert advice.

    - 4/30/2013 5:01:46 AM
  • CATHY19621
    I'm allergic to mushrooms and if I eat more then a table spoon of anything white (rice, potatoes) my sugar goes through the roof. I can't even think about pasta, forget it unless it's dreamfields. I just went from a A1C of 10 % for a really long time to 6.6 but with the neuropathy I can't walk to exercise. - 4/17/2013 1:46:32 PM
    Well said.Really great article about diet plan for diabetics, everyone can follow it, thank you so much.
    an_for_diabetics.html - 2/14/2013 7:00:26 AM
  • PH12828
    I wondered if the person who tried Dr. Fuhrman's Eat to Live had any success with it? My doctor just recommended this book to me and I want to try it. Several people I work with have used it and no longer need meds for things like blood pressure, cholesterol, things like that. There is a new book - The End of Diabetes - looks really interesting. - 1/10/2013 11:32:27 PM
  • Interesting..but about 30 carb grams more than I am allowed per day sadly. It's Ok tho..I'm maintaining my type 2 with diet and exercise alone, and can't argue with my nutritionist, cuz I've met with success.!! Two years now.. - 12/23/2012 7:50:09 PM
    Meal plan sounds great - 12/12/2012 8:20:33 PM
  • Interesting enough - 10/13/2012 4:09:43 PM
    I applaud every one that is trying to loose weight and get healthy. I have been on a roller coaster all my life. I have type 2 diabetes and Heart problems. 3 weeks ago I saw a cardiologist and I weighed 198 pounds. He told me to get down to 130 lbs. I have to go back and see him in 1 more week. I have lost 18 lbs. I am hoping to loose 2 more lbs. I did this because I want him to know I am serious about loosing the weight. Just loosing 18 lbs has given me more energy. I am sure my heart says Thank You. Hopefully being on here will help me get to my goal weight of 130. By the way, I am 71 years old. Thanks for reading my comments. - 8/23/2012 8:32:18 PM
  • Has anyone read or tried Dr Fuhrman's Eat to Live plant based diet? I have just started. It seems he has had a lot of success getting diabetes and heart disease reversed, as well as weight loss. Just curious... it is a plant based diet, and I have recently become vegan after learning more bout where our food supply comes from and how the animals are really treated. It is AWFUL! - 8/5/2012 5:53:38 PM
  • To LittleNewt: My cardiologist and dietition recommend specially-made margarines, such as the Heart Smart brands. It is still considered margarine, but has no trans fats. It is up to you to read the label and choose the margarine that works for you.
    To the people who question the broccoli issue: My dietition gave me a choice of three different diets, each with its own rules for counting carbs, fats, and fibers. Maybe your diet plan is different than the one in this article. You should check with your dietition for the correct rules for your diet plan. - 7/26/2012 5:16:48 PM

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