Goals & guidelines

The primary aim of diabetes control is to prevent your blood glucose levels from rising too high or dropping too low. The goal is to achieve blood glucose levels as close to normal as possible.

Your doctor or diabetes educator can help you to determine what target blood glucose levels are right for you.

You can maintain a stable blood glucose level by balancing the type and amount of food eaten, with your physical activity and medication (pills and/or insulin).

A healthy meal plan for diabetes:

  • Recommends how much food to eat.
  • Suggests how often and when to eat.
  • Attempts to maintain or achieve a healthy body weight for target blood glucose control.
  • Allows you to eat regular foods in specified portions.

Recommendations for healthy eating

  • Eat meals at regular times and do not skip meals or snacks.
  • Eat three meals a day, with snacks if recommended.
  • Eat only the amounts of food listed on your meal plan.
  • Measure or weigh your food to be sure serving sizes are accurate.
  • Learn the sizes and volume of bowls and glasses at your home so you know how much you're eating.
  • If weight loss is your goal, a loss of 1/2 to 1 kg (1 to 2 lbs) per week is safe and healthy.

A healthy diet should include servings from each of the four food groups every day:

  • Grain Products*
  • Vegetables and Fruit
  • Milk Products*
  • Meat and Alternatives*

* Low fat choices are recommended.

A healthy diet for people with diabetes is the same as what is recommended for all healthy people. In addition, special attention should be paid to foods that contain carbohydrates as these easily convert into sugar.

The food groups that contain carbohydrates include: grain products (starch foods), milk, fruit and sweet vegetables.

The intake of these sugar-producing (carbohydrate) foods should be distributed throughout the day to help maintain a steady blood glucose level.

Grain Products (starch foods)
Example: Bread, cereal, pasta, rice, corn

Fruit and Vegetables
Example: All fruits, carrots, peas, squash, turnip, beets

Milk Products
Example: Fluid milk and yogurt

Note: Meat, poultry, fish and cheese are all protein foods. Margarine, butter and oils are included in the fats and oils category.

While proteins and fats don't affect blood glucose directly, they can influence your weight and increase the risk of heart disease. They should therefore only be eaten in moderate amounts.

Some vegetables are considered extras . These are foods that are low in sugar (carbohydrates) and provide essential vitamins and minerals. They can be eaten in any quantity you desire, unless specified otherwise.

Foods that contain concentrated sugars, like candy and soda pop, can cause rapid increases in your blood glucose level.

Foods that contain concentrated sugars (recommended serving size)

  • Candy (2)
  • Condensed milk (15 mL, 1 Tbsp)
  • Corn syrup (10 mL, 2 tsp)
  • Honey (10 mL, 2 tsp)
  • Jams, jellies (15 mL, 1 tsp)
  • Maple syrup (10 mL, 2 tsp)
  • Marmalade (15 mL, 2 tsp)
  • Molasses (10 mL, 2tsp)
  • Regular chewing gum (1 piece, 5 g)
  • Regular gelatine desserts (50 mL, 1/4 cup)
  • Regular soft drinks (125 mL, 1/2 cup)
  • Sugar, white or brown (10 mL, 2 tsp)
  • Sweet relish (30 mL, 2 Tbsp)

It is a common misconception that a person with diabetes should not eat foods that contain sugar. You can include a small amount of sugar in your diet (10% of your overall calories).

Your dietician can show you how to include foods that contain sugar into your meal plan.