Diabetics are people who suffer from diabetes mellitus, a chronic condition that causes excess and uncontrolled blood sugar in the blood. Symptoms of uncontrolled diabetes include fatigue, frequent urination, blurry vision, dry skin, and mouth sores. The disease affects over twenty million people worldwide, and can often be controlled, with the right diet and exercise.

Diabetics are always looking for ways to manage their disease and avoid complications. Focusing on a diabetes diet is one of the ways to control diabetes. It is important to have a well-balanced diet and eating healthy foods will help to control your disease.

Diabetes snack tips

Like desserts, snacks don’t necessarily need to be part of your daily diet. However, if you do get hungry in between meals and feel you need to eat, choose cheese, olives, eggs, or other foods on this list of healthy keto snacks.

2. How do different foods affect blood sugar?

The diabetes foods list above contains sources of three broad categories called macronutrients (major nutrients): carbohydrates (carbs), protein, and fat. Instead of being 100% protein, fat or carbs, many foods are actually a combination of two or all three — like nuts, seeds and yogurt.

But how does each macronutrient affect your blood sugar?


Of the three macronutrients, carbs raise blood sugar the most — especially in people who have diabetes. This is why the American Diabetes Association recently announced that regardless of the type of diet you follow, reducing carbohydrate intake improves blood sugar control.

The two types of carbs that raise blood sugar are starches and sugars:

Starches: long chains of sugar units that are linked together
Examples: grains, rice, pasta, potatoes, peas, corn

Sugars: two sugar units that are linked together
Examples: fruit, milk, table sugar, honey

After carbs are consumed, they’re broken down into single sugar units in your digestive tract and absorbed into your bloodstream. This causes your blood sugar to rise immediately. As a result, starchy foods like rice and bread can raise blood sugar as much as sweet foods.

Importantly, one portion of the carbs in whole plant foods isn’t digested and absorbed into the bloodstream: fiber. For this reason, fiber that occurs naturally in foods generally doesn’t raise blood sugar in most people.

The digestible, non-fiber portion of carbs is often referred to as “net carbs,” which are calculated by subtracting fiber from the total carbs a food contains.

For example, if you eat one-third of a cup of white rice, which has about 15 grams of carbs and no fiber, your body absorbs all of the carbs, leading to a rise in blood sugar. By contrast, 3 cups of chopped cauliflower also has about 15 grams of carbs, including 7 grams of fiber.

If you eat the cauliflower, you’ll only get 8 grams of net carbs, and your blood sugar will increase much less and more gradually due to the lower net carbs and a slowing effect from the fiber. Furthermore, 3 cups of chopped cauliflower is perhaps more than you’d even want to consume at one sitting, and eating a smaller portion would further reduce your net carb intake.


Just as carbohydrates are made up of chains of sugar (glucose) molecules, the protein you eat is made up of chains of individual units called amino acids. During digestion, these chains are broken down into those amino acids, which are absorbed into your bloodstream.

Although responses among different people vary slightly, consuming a moderate amount of protein at one time generally has little effect on blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes who produce insulin.

Many studies demonstrate that people following higher protein diets improve their blood sugar more than people following lower protein diets.

However, in people with type 1 diabetes or those with type 2 who are no longer producing insulin, even moderate amounts of protein may raise blood sugar — although more gradually and to a lesser extent than carbs do — unless a small amount of insulin is injected.


Dietary fat has very little effect on blood sugar. In fact, consuming pure fat all by itself is unlikely to increase your blood sugar at all.

Including fat at a meal delays the rate at which carb-containing foods are broken down and absorbed. This can help prevent blood sugar increases if carbs are kept low.

However, studies conducted on people with type 1 diabetes have shown that consuming a high-fat, high-carb meal can prolong the time that blood sugar remains elevated after eating. This is one reason why it’s important to avoid eating meals that are high in both fat and carbs.

3. How many carbs can I eat if I have diabetes?

What should your daily carb intake be? Although lower is generally better, exactly how many carbs you can tolerate is somewhat individual.

You and your friend may both have diabetes. Yet after eating an identical meal, your own blood sugar may be higher or lower than your friend’s an hour or two later. More importantly, one of you may now have a blood sugar level above the normal range.

Monitoring blood sugar response

If you keep net carbs very low (under 10 grams per meal), your blood sugar is likely to remain well controlled at all times. If you want to experiment with eating slightly more carbs, make sure to test your blood sugar to determine your personal carb tolerance.

Try to measure your blood glucose before eating and then at 1 and 2 hours after eating. Keep a log of your blood sugar readings along with what you ate, and adjust your carb intake as needed based on your results.

4. Diabetes meal planning: keep it simple

There are just three steps to planning a meal to keep blood sugars low. Start with adequate protein, include minimally processed fats, and keep your carbs low and consistent across meals.

Start with adequate protein

Protein is important for maintaining muscle, preventing bone loss, and helping to control appetite, among its many other functions.

Make sure to include a good protein source at each meal. Aim for about 4-7 ounces (110-200 grams) of meat, poultry, fish, or tofu; or 4-6 eggs.

Learn more — including how to calculate your personal protein needs — in our complete protein guide.

Include minimally processed fat

Fat is the macronutrient that has the least effect on blood sugar, adds richness and flavor to meals, and provides the majority of your energy needs on a low-carb diabetes diet. Remember to focus mostly on minimally processed fat sources as often as possible.

Check out our guide to healthy fats on a low-carb or keto diet

Keep carbs low and consistent across meals

With diabetes, it’s not just how many carbs you consume per day that matters; your carb intake at each meal is important because it can affect your blood sugar for several hours. It may be best to aim for roughly the same amount of net carbs (10 grams or less) at each meal instead of eating most of your carbs at one sitting.

Remember that testing your blood sugar will confirm whether your blood sugar remains within the normal, healthy range.

Meal plans designed for results

With our personalized meal plans, we do the planning for you. All you have to focus on is cooking, eating, and enjoying healthy, delicious food.

6. Summary

An effective diabetes diet doesn’t have to be complicated; in fact, it can be surprisingly simple and enjoyable, as described above.

By eating delicious whole foods that are naturally low in carbohydrates, you could be on your way to reversing type 2 diabetes or achieving excellent blood sugar control with type 1 diabetes.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best food to control diabetes?

The best food to control diabetes is a diet that includes whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and low-fat dairy products.

What foods can diabetics eat freely?

Diabetics can eat freely of all fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

What foods lower blood sugar immediately?

Some foods that lower blood sugar quickly are: -Bananas -Apples -Carrots -Celery -Grapefruit -Pineapple -Watermelon Some foods that lower blood sugar slowly are: -Oatmeal -Brown rice -Quinoa -Beans -Broccoli -Cauliflower -Lettuce -Tomatoes -Yams

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