Complete list of foods to eat if you have diabetes - and what to limit (2023)

Plan, plan and plan some more. That's my motto for success in the kitchen—and it's especially helpful when you're eating because of a chronic condition like type 2 diabetes. Creating a roadmap of delicious, balanced foods for meals and snacks will help you stay on track and support your overall health. When you go to the grocery store with a list you've made on budget and meal planning, you can reduce food waste and save money. So what are the best groceries to pick up at the store, and which ones should you limit? (See our list ofBest foods for diabetes.)

Get the shopping list to print out here!

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Complete list of foods to eat if you have diabetes - and what to limit (1)

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limit food

Packaged foods can still be in your diet; You just want to choose them wisely.Read the label for nutritional information and the list of ingredientsand learn to be an informed consumer who intentionally chooses foods that support your health.

(Video) Adult Type 2 Diabetes - 4. Nutrition Basics

Just because a label on the front of a package says a product is “natural” doesn't mean the product is inherently better. On the back of the packaging you will find the information you need to make your selection. You should pay attention to the portion size as this will give you information on the amount of food that qualifies as a single serving.

Also note the amount of saturated fat, sodium and added sugars. Ideally, these numbers should not account for more than 7 to 10% of the daily value. The Daily Value shows the amount of each nutrient in one serving of the food. 5% or less is considered low, 20% or more is considered high. Pay attention to the total carbohydrates in the diet and look for sugars listed in the ingredients list.

If you have diabetes, all foods can fit into your diet. But you want to choose some foods less often.

Foods you may want to limit include:

  • sugar-sweetened drinks like soda and sports drinks
  • packaged baked goods and baked goods
  • Refined grain products like white bread (choose whole grains instead)
  • sweetened fruits (look for unsweetened dried, canned, and frozen fruits)
  • processed meats, including hot dogs, sausages, and bacon

Continue reading: Packaged foods you can feel good about

Healthy food staples to add to your list

So what should you choose more of? Focus on whole and minimally processed foods. Opt for fiber- and nutrient-dense whole grains instead of refined grains. Vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, healthy proteins, and healthy fats should make up a majority of your diet.

Creating a solid grocery list, as well as a pantry list that focuses on staples and specialty items, makes shopping a lot easier. Batch cooking can also save you time and energy in the kitchen (get ourTop Tips To Become An Expert Diet Planner If You Have Diabetes). If you want to eat healthy foods, you must first stock them in your house.


Vegetables are a food group that most of us can't get enough of. They are packed with nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Vegetables are typically divided into two categories - non-starchy and starchy. Starchy vegetables contain more carbohydrates (about 15 grams per 1/2 cup cooked), so keep that in mind when planning your plate. Eat a variety of vegetables for many different nutrients. Fresh vegetables are great. Frozen and canned are also good choices and can be cheaper and last longer - just check the sodium.

Non-starchy vegetables

  • Spinach, kale, collard greens, Swiss chard, mustard greens
  • Paprika
  • carrots
  • Broccoli
  • cauliflower
  • Cauliflower
  • asparagus
  • Saddlery
  • onions
  • tomatoes
  • Zucchini
  • garlic
  • Mushrooms
  • Okra
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Starchy Vegetables

  • pumpkin
  • Winter squash like butternut squash, acorn squash
  • sweet potatoes
  • potatoes
  • Yucca
  • Cassava
  • Most
  • sweet peas


Fruit can be a good choice if you have diabetes. They contain carbohydrates (approx. 15 g per serving), but also many nutrients. Fruit also provides fiber to help minimize blood sugar spikes. Don't be afraid of frozen fruit either. They are generally harvested at the peak of the growing season, so they are just as nutritious as fresh produce. Since they're frozen, you don't have to worry about them spoiling as quickly, and when they're on sale, you can buy the bags in bulk. Frozen fruit is great in smoothies or thawed in oatmeal or yogurt.

  • apples
  • bananas
  • Lemons
  • Lemons
  • plums
  • apricots
  • peaches
  • strawberries
  • blueberries
  • Grapes
  • oranges, clementines



Buying dried beans in bulk makes them one of the cheapest healthy foods you can eat. They take more time and foresight to prepare, but cost a fraction of the price of many other protein foods. Using an instant pot (pressure cooker) can significantly reduce your active time in the kitchen. Even canned, they're still affordable. A 1/3-cup serving of cooked beans contains about 15g of carbohydrates and provides fiber, plant-based protein, and other nutrients.

  • black beans
  • navy beans
  • butter beans
  • Chickpeas
  • Kidneybohnen
  • lima beans
  • pinto beans
  • broad beans


You can also eat cereals and other typical starches if you have diabetes. Choose whole grains at least 50% of the time. And watch your portions. A 1/3 cup serving of cooked grains contains about 15 grams of carbohydrates. To bulk up your portion, add plenty of non-starchy veggies.

  • Rice: black, brown, red
  • Andenhirse
  • barley
  • Pasta: bean-based (e.g. lentils, chickpeas, black beans), whole grain, alternative grain-based (quinoa, brown rice)
  • Bread (1 slice): look for 100% whole wheat or 100% whole grain


Look for lean cuts of meat when you can to cut down on saturated fats. Try to eat a variety of proteins, including seafood twice a week. The animal proteins listed here have, for the most part, 0 g carbohydrates. Nevertheless, you should not overdo it with your protein portions. A serving is 3 to 4 ounces of cooked meat.

  • Owner
  • Fish and other seafood including shrimp, salmon, haddock, cod, scallops, sardines and tuna
  • Poultry, including chicken breasts, chicken thighs, and ground chicken and turkey
  • red meats, including tenderloin, diced beef, flank steak, lean ground beef, sirloin
  • Pork, including pork loin, pork chops and ground beef
(Video) 5 Diet Tips for Diabetes


Dairy products contain some carbohydrates. A cup of milk or yogurt is about 12 grams. But dairy also provides protein, calcium, and vitamin D. Choose low-fat or non-fat dairy when limiting your saturated fat. Otherwise, the main thing to look out for here is flavored dairy products – e.g. B. Blueberry yogurt – as the added sugar can really increase the carb count. Instead, opt for plain, unsweetened yogurt and other dairy products, and add a little fruit if needed. Compared to most dairy products, cheese contains fewer carbohydrates and more protein and fat.

  • Milch
  • Natural yoghurt
  • cottage cheese
  • Cheeses, including cheddar and swiss

Nuts & Seeds

Nuts and seeds provide healthy fats and plant-based protein for very few carbs. Choose low-sodium or salt-free options whenever possible. These make a great snack or oatmeal or salad topper.

  • almonds
  • walnuts
  • Pecannüsse
  • pistachios
  • peanuts
  • Chia seeds
  • linseed
  • hemp seeds
  • hazelnuts

bottom line

Grocery shopping when you have diabetes can feel overwhelming, but it doesn't have to be. To make things easier, choose a day when you shop and try to pick a time that isn't crowded. Many stores now offer grocery delivery, which can be a great time saver. Learning what foods to include in your diet more often can help you streamline your diet, and you can make so many different delicious recipes using the foods listed above. Read labels and look for special offers, and don't forget to have fun and be creative with the groceries you bring home.


teal and pink LivingWell with diabetes logo on white background

Complete list of foods to eat if you have diabetes - and what to limit (2)

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