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How to Make a Diabetes Meal Plan

Guidelines for Making Diabetes Diet-Approved Meals

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Updated June 16, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Plate your food wisely to comply to a diabetes-friendly diet.

Plate your food wisely to comply to a diabetes-friendly diet.

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Diabetic meal plans are not "one size fits all." Every diabetic's dietary needs are different. They will vary based on your sex, age, activity level, height, weight and medications. If you have not yet met with a registered dietitian, seek one out. They can help you develop an individualized diabetic meal plan to meet all of your unique needs.

That being said, diabetic meal plans that abide by the following general criteria will work for most people with type 2 diabetes. So start working on these general meal planning guidelines:

  • Always try to up the fiber content of your meal plans by choosing whole-grain starch options and incorporating fruits and vegetables.
  • Choose low-fat dairy products such as skim or 1% milk, low-fat yogurt, and low-fat cheese.
  • Limit use of fat in general. Opt for food that has been baked, grilled, or sauteed using a fat-free, non-stick cooking spray. If fat is needed, using a small amount of canola or olive oil is generally the healthiest option because these oils do not contain saturated fat.
  • Properly portion your meals. Using a standard dinner-size plate:

    Breakfast: Make half of your plate starch, one quarter fruit, and one quarter lean protein.

    Lunch and Dinner: Make half of your lunch and dinner plate non-starchy vegetables, one quarter whole-grain starchy foods and one quarter lean protein. Add one low-fat dairy serving or another starch, plus one serving of fruit to round out these meals.

    For an evening snack, use a standard size salad plate and make half whole-grain starch, fruit or low-fat milk, and the other half lean protein.

Following these general guidelines should produce a meal plan that is appropriate for most type 2 diabetics and has approximately:

  • 45 to 60 grams of carbohydrate per meal
  • 15 to 30 grams of carbohydrate per evening snack
  • 50% of total daily calories from carbohydrate, 20% calories from protein, and 30% calories from fat (7% from saturated fat).

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