How to plan your diet in diabetes?

How to plan your diet in diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic disorder that needs lifestyle modifications in addition to medical therapy. Medical management solitude is barely enough to prevent a diabetic patient from developing complications. A proper healthy diet in diabetes is necessary for a person.


Lifestyle modifications include healthy dietary practices, regular exercise, and psychosocial well-being. Each pillar is equally important in order to ensure a good outcome. Dietary practices and regular exercise are mainly targeted to bring down the blood glucose level and body weight. Psychosocial well-being is essential to prevent hormonal derangement that would worsen diabetes. Achieving one pillar is not enough to have a healthy outcome. Ideally, each pillar should go hand-in-hand.

How to make my diet plan?

Ideally, for a diabetic patient, dietary nutrition therapy (a diet plan) should be initiated after counseling a dietitian or a nutritionist. However, you can make your own planned diet in diabetes as long as you are vigilant about your condition and keen on improving your health status.

Current WHO guidelines do not recommend having special diabetic foods. Therefore, a diabetic meal should be similar to the meal that a healthy man would consume. Simply, a diet in diabetes is the ideal diet for most of the people irrespective of their diabetic status.

A diabetic meal plan should be focused on

  1. Maintaining the appetite
  2. Food preferences
  3. Providing adequate macro and micronutrients
  4. Restricting calories and energy
  5. Reducing the BMI if it’s over 25 km/m2 (Asians – 23 kg/m2)
  6. Prevent or delay the complications of diabetes

Foods to have in diabetes


The diabetic meal plan should always contain naturally occurring foods instead of processed foods. Most of the fruits and vegetables are free to consume for diabetic people. Your meal should fulfill your daily carbohydrate, protein, lipid, and micronutrient needs.

Include several vegetables and at least one fruit in each meal. You should at least consume 3 tablespoons of vegetables from at least 3 different vegetables each day. In addition, 2-3 fruits should be consumed each day. However, overconsumption of fruits and vegetables may cause high blood sugar levels.


Foods that are rich in complex carbohydrates and fibers are recommended for the diabetic people. The digestion of complex carbohydrates occurs slowly in the gastrointestinal tract. Hence the glucose release to the blood is low and prolonged. This prevents blood glucose level from rising heavily after having the meals. In contrast, foods containing simple carbohydrates produce a large peak of blood glucose level and worsen the diabetes. Therefore, those foods should ideally be avoided.

Foods with complex carbohydrates – Fruits, vegetables, whole grains (rice, barley, cereal, pasta), Legumes, such as beans and peas.

Foods with simple carbohydrates – Sweetened drinks, fast foods, baked foods, jams, candy, ice cream, etc.

Fibers in food impair glucose absorption at the intestines. Thus it reduces the rise in glucose level following a meal.

Food rich with fibers – Fruits, Vegetables, whole grains, nuts

The amount of carbohydrates you should consume daily depend on your BMI and the level of daily activities. If the BMI is above 23 kg/m2, 6-7 daily portions are enough. If BMI is below 23 kg/m2, you can have 6-11 daily portions depending on the level of your physical activities and blood sugar control. However, daily carbohydrate consumption shouldn’t be more than 130 grams.

1 portion of carbohydrates = a ½ cup of cooked rice, a ½ cup of pasta, a slice of bread,


Most of the diabetic patients don’t have dietary protein restrictions unless they have developed renal disease as a consequence of diabetes. However, fatty meat such as pork have to be reduced depending on the patients BMI.


Fat consumption should be reduced in diabetic people, especially if the bodyweight is high. The amount of oil and butter used for cooking should be minimal and deep-frying of food should be avoided as much as possible. Fish contains healthy fats (ω3 fatty acids) that are essential for the human body. Therefore, fish should be included in the meals in preference to animal meat as a source of both protein and fat.

Foods containing healthy fats – Avocado, fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel, olive oil, nuts 

Having diabetes does not mean that you should completely give up all your favorite foods. You can have them but may have to reduce the portion size and the frequency of consumption depending on the food type.

How much should you eat for each meal?


The simplest method to determine the amount you should eat for each meal is the plate method. Fill half of your plate with non-starchy vegetables, one fourth by proteins and, one fourth by whole grains. In addition to those have an adequate amount of fruits and water.

General advises

Blood glucose level neither should go above or below the normal range. Diabetic people are prone to develop low blood sugar levels partly due to their deranged hormonal regulations and partly due to the over-activity of their anti-diabetic drugs. Low blood sugar can cause severe complications like permanent brain damage and even death. Thus a diabetic person,

  1. Shouldn’t skip meals; eat the main 3 meals at the same time each day if possible.
  2. Should not take more than the prescribed dose of oral hypoglycaemic drugs.
  3. Should not double the dose in case if he misses one.
  4. Should eat a small, healthy snack before and after having exercises.

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Author: Dr. Pulasthi MilanPulasthi Milan Lankarathna is a graduated doctor from the Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka. Currently, he is working as a medical-officer at the National Hospital of Sri Lanka. Writing has been his passion throughout his life. He loved to read books since his childhood. He believes that the essence that he gained by reading, motivated him to be a writer. He started writing as a creative writer during his College days. He has written over hundreds of short stories, poems, and articles, etc. After graduating as a Doctor, he switched himself to write about medical topics with an idea of improving the medical knowledge among the general population.