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Food as Medicine: Diet Tips to Manage Diabetes

    The food we eat affects how we feel on a daily basis. It can also help prevent and manage specific diseases, such as diabetes. However, making the transition from a relatively carefree eating plan to a strictly tailored one can be understandably daunting. In this article, we highlight the things you need to focus on when shopping for groceries or preparing your meals. 

    Manage diabetes through proper diet and meal planning.

    For people with diabetes, regulating food intake is one of the best ways to manage the disease. The body reacts to sugar in the blood, so an ideal meal plan helps regulate sugar levels. This approach can also be called medical nutrition therapy which, according to the American Diabetes Association, is vital for people at all levels of diabetes prevention and management. 

    For this diet to work, you need to watch out for two things: carbohydrates—which the body breaks down into glucose—and sugar. Technically, people with diabetes, especially those who have been diagnosed with prediabetes, can follow just about any popular diet like the paleo and keto diets. Just watch out for any sources of hidden sugar and choose your carbs wisely. 

    Dissecting Carbohydrates 

    For people with diabetes, it’s imperative to monitor the intake of carbohydrates because the body breaks them down into glucose (a.k.a. sugar) which raises blood sugar.

    Carbohydrates include anything with grains, such as cereals, pasta, and bread. However, you have to watch out for sneaky sources of carbs, like a piece of fruit or frozen yogurt which can easily contain about 15g of carbs.

    Focus on Fiber

    Increasing your fiber intake can delay the digestion and absorption of carbs. Look for foods that contain soluble fiber, which absorbs water and turns it into gel to slow down digestion, over insoluble fiber.  

    Add the following fiber-rich foods in your grocery list: barley, avocados, artichokes, black beans, broccoli, lentils, and peas. 

    The Plate Method

    A well-balanced plate determines the success of your meal plan. This is where the Plate Method comes in. 

    Plate method recommends a balanced meal of 50% non-starchy vegetables, 25% protein, and 25% starches and carbs.

    Half of your plate should be composed of non-starchy vegetables such as arugula, broccoli, asparagus, Brussel sprouts, chard, carrots, cauliflower, kale, radishes, romaine lettuce, spinach, zucchini, and watercress. These contain a lower amount of carbohydrates and calories compared to their starchy counterparts.  

    Protein should comprise 25% of your plate. Look for fatty fish such as salmon, shrimp, and lean meats like chicken or turkey breast. 

    The remaining 25% of your plate should be allotted for starches and carbs. Don’t get us wrong: although we spent a good part of this article talking about avoiding carbs, you still need carbs in your diet. This is where your body gets most of its energy. But be mindful about choosing complex carbs like quinoa, barley, buckwheat, and farro. You can also include peas and beans (black or chickpea). 

    Contrary to popular belief, you can still make room for dessert, but moderation is key. Choose dark chocolate, fresh berries, or Greek yogurt.

    With the basics of the diabetes-friendly diet out of the way, we included a delicious recipe that you can easily prepare.  

    Turkey Sausage Frittata Recipe

    Serving Size: 6 


    2 tsp. olive oil

    ½ lbs. ground turkey breast

    1/2 bunch of spinach, roughly chopped

    1 small white onion, chopped

    1 small red bell pepper, chopped

    6 egg whites

    3 eggs

    1/3 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

    a pinch of coarse ground salt and pepper


    1. Preheat oven to 400°F.

    2. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together eggs, egg whites, salt, pepper, and cheese. Set aside.

    3. In a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat, sauté turkey until cooked. Remove from pan, drain fat, and wipe with a paper towel.

    4. Place skillet back on the burner and add onion, spinach, and bell pepper. Sauté until soft. Drain any liquid from the vegetables and add turkey back in. Pour egg and cheese mixture over the top and cook until the eggs are beginning to set around the edges.

    5. Place skillet on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes.

    6. Remove from oven and serve. 

    Diet Success Tips

    Replacing your diet with a new one can take time, especially when there are a lot of pointers to remember like counting carbs. Productivity masters say it takes 21 days to form a new habit, and adopting a new diet is the same. After the 21 days are up, making healthier food choices should be more natural to you. 

    What do you think about these diabetes-friendly diet tips? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.