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Meal Planning Tips for People with Type 2 Diabetes

Putting It All Together

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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

  • This seams like a lot of carbs to me. I've cut back a bit more, and didn't think OJ was even an option... but I know it makes sense not to say no to foods if you can reasonably limit them. I've been off diabetes meds since Sept 2015 and don't plan on going back on.
    - 1/26/2016 8:06:57 PM
  • wheres the fruits and veggies..1/2 cup broccoli...really
    ...not one leafy green (it says salad but how much is unclear),,,,then on top of all that you omit any veggies for breakfast - 10/27/2015 11:13:42 PM
    This is the same info I was given in 2006. I followed it to a T and my glucose levels go higher. Took me years to figure out I just can't follow the standard dietary guidlines and lose weigh and improve A1C. I now follow LCHF and fasting. Not saying this is for everyone. As my doctor told me this week: You have to find what works best for you. - 10/23/2015 12:10:28 PM
  • I was told the same thing years ago. Funny thing is that diabetics use to be referred to the Weight Watchers plan. Now that is not the case. Makes you wonder. - 8/12/2015 11:01:21 PM
  • Pretty good information. My Nutritionist said, "You can eat fruit (no more than 2 servings per day) but don't drink juice" so I forgo the breakfast juice and eat 1/2 Grapefruit or orange or prunes instead. Then have cottage cheese with chopped vegetables for snack! - 6/11/2015 7:47:36 AM
    Shout out to Mumbless,
    Thank you for suggesting the recumbent bike. I usually walk every morning but it's been so darn cold and the side walks are so slippy that I can't get out. But the bike thing could be the answer to my prayers and I am going to check it out on amazon. And I am a type 2 diabetic so I need to keep moving as they say.
    - 1/9/2015 9:14:10 AM
    Hello again... me again...
    CATHY19621 and MIMI_CASS... I am also damaged in the knee area. I have walked with a cane for the last 10 years... I recently found am amazing thing... one of my friends from work, wanted to lose weight and control his activity, but he has old injuries from sports and has to use very low impact exercises. where I live it rains roughly from around October first to some time around the beginning of May, pretty much everyday, all day, so riding a bike while feasible is a nasty proposition. what my friend did was go to Sears and buy a pedal machine, no it is not a bike and it was less than $60 it is a set of pedals Mounted on a triangular type frame that sits on the floor. You set the difficulty with a twisty nob in the center and you sit in what ever chair you choose to. Now, he mounted his set on the side of a heavy end table which he placed in front of his TV. he chose a chair that was a little lower than usual, put His TV on a Slightly Taller stand and every time he was in front of the TV for any reason he was pedaling this bike thing from a low impact position. He lost all of the weight he needed to and most of the weight he wanted to... I was in the hospital for four months last spring [much better now thanks] and when I went back to work he looked so good I didn't recognize him until he spoke to me. What an amazing difference in his life.. he is doing his sports again, and appears to be happier than he's been in years. I'm trying it and it seems to be working for me too... I have nerve damage from gymnastics in my feet and ripped out tendons in my Right knee, and this home grown recumbent bike is saving my life. It could be your answer too but I make no guarantees because you and I are different people and no-one fits the cookie cutter mold, ever. Oh, and I will make no bones about this... I am 5 foot 2 and 3/4 inches tall and I weight 350 pounds at last measure, I wasn't kidding when I said this was saving my life.
    - 1/8/2015 4:24:21 PM
    This is for the 30 food article.... check the ingredients in nondairy creamers... they use a great deal of cornsyrup in various forms... My diabetes coach said they were worse for you than cream or sugar because your body treats them as concentrated sugars. So, I checked it out and she was right... I took my blood sugar before and after using those products while having eaten the exact same foods, for breakfast, [where I drink my coffee] and my blood sugar was between 3 and 4 point higher than the previous day afterthe same meal with the nondairy creamer. Nondairy creamer is the kiss of death to controlled sugars because it is mostly dextrose and cornsyrup which are related products though they are not quite identical. Where I live you get a free diabetic coach through the local hospital, they are a certified nutritionist and have to have serious experience before they can ever apply for the position, They also have to be an RN so they can teach you about things that pierce your skin like lancets and needles. - 1/8/2015 3:51:23 PM
  • 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

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