Eat Well with Diabetes

Eat Well with Diabetes

Ellie Wilson, MS, RDN 

How can you eat well with diabetes? This is the first question asked when someone is diagnosed, and it comes back up whenever a new fad diet comes along, or a friend reads an article, or new research is shared (or shredded) by the media. There is no single best diet for diabetes, in fact, the research shows that a personalized plan developed by a registered dietitian-nutritionist (RDN) is the most recommended way to get the information needed to enjoy good food and good health while managing diabetes.

The 2019 American Diabetes Association Nutrition Consensus Report, ( a review of the most recent research that included 600+ studies, is summarized in 6 tips. Here is a snapshot and some ideas for shopping that can get you started.

  1. Actually, I already gave you the first tip – meeting with a RDN is the best way to get food information that is personalized and puts your lifestyle, taste, favorites and health needs together to get you started or updated on current science and strategies to enjoy eating in a way that will also support good health.
  2. There are many choices that will fit into your eating plan, including Mediterranean, Vegetarian and more. Understanding how different foods can change blood sugar control is essential to living well with diabetes. The more you know, the more confident you will be that you can make better choices wherever you eat.
  3. There is no general “prescription” of carbohydrates, protein and fat amounts. Getting that personalized care from a RDN will help you find those targets and hit them.
  4. There are no “perfect” carbohydrate foods, and no recognized definition of “low carb” eating, but there is some evidence that eating smaller amounts of carbs that also have a good nutrient value supports better blood sugar control. Again, the more you know, the easier making good choices will be.
  5. A small amount of weight loss can improve how your body handles blood sugar. Just 5% weight loss can roll back the diagnosis of prediabetes, and make diabetes management easier by improving insulin sensitivity.
  6. Food choices matter – choosing foods with lower sodium and low added sugars is recommended. Swapping out saturated fats for healthy fats, like olive oil and avocado, is also a smart move.

We know this is a challenging diagnosis, and want to help you locate the foods your dietitian and health care team recommend. The Know your colors nutrition guides, including Carb Smart, Heart Smart, and Whole Grain, may be helpful with choosing foods that meet the recommendations of your health care team and food plan. Share the information with your providers, and shop more confidently in our stores. The guides will help you quickly find foods that may fit, and then you can check the label to be sure it meets your needs. Got a nutrition question? Ask me here, and I will email you back!


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