Role of Proper Nutrition in Diabetes Management

Proper nutrition is a very important key to living a healthy life, especially for people that have diabetes. There are many different myths and misconceptions surrounding the diet of someone with diabetics like diabetics can’t have certain fruits, or they have to cut sugar out of their diet completely. In this article, we’re going to clear up these misconceptions and learn how to create a healthy eating plan–a proper diabetes diet.

Different Types of Diabetes

To understand how your diet should work, first we must look at the different types of diabetes. There are two different types of diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2. Both types of diabetes deal with a hormone that is found in the pancreas called insulin which helps the body absorb sugar in the blood stream. In Type 1, the pancreas produces little to no insulin. In Type 2, the body produces insulin, but cannot use it. In both cases, the insulin issue results in excess glucose in the blood stream.

How can proper nutrition help with diabetes?

Since carbohydrates are the main nutrient that causes glucose production, a diet that includes fewer carbohydrates will result in less glucose in the blood. Proper nutrition is essential because when there are smaller amounts of glucose in your blood, your body requires less insulin. In this way, Type 2 diabetes can essentially be reversed if you take care of your diet and exercise regularly.

How to Take Control of Your Carbs

As stated above, the key to a good, diabetic diet is carbohydrate control. On average, a diabetic should take in 45-60 grams of carbohydrates per meal (135-180 grams per day). However, this number may change depending on how much you exercise and what kind of medications you take. Let’s look at some foods that contain carbohydrates:

According to the American Diabetes association, “Foods that contain carbohydrates are:

  • Starchy foods like bread, cereal, rice, and crackers
  • Fruit and juice
  • Milk and yogurt
  • Dried beans like pinto beans and soy products like veggie burgers
  • Starchy vegetables like potatoes and corn
  • Sweets and snack foods like sodas, juice drinks, cake, cookies, candy, and chips

Reading food labels is a great way to know how much carbohydrate is in a food. For foods that do not have a label, you have to estimate how much carbohydrate is in it. Keeping general serving sizes in mind will help you estimate how much carbohydrate you are eating.

For example there is about 15 grams of carbohydrate in:

  • 1 small piece of fresh fruit (4 oz)
  • 1/2 cup of canned or frozen fruit
  • 1 slice of bread (1 oz) or 1 (6 inch) tortilla
  • 1/2 cup of oatmeal
  • 1/3 cup of pasta or rice
  • 4-6 crackers
  • 1/2 English muffin or hamburger bun
  • 1/2 cup of black beans or starchy vegetableweight loss
  • 1/4 of a large baked potato (3 oz)
  • 2/3 cup of plain fat-free yogurt or sweetened with sugar substitutes
  • 2 small cookies
  • 2 inch square brownie or cake without frosting
  • 1/2 cup ice cream or sherbet
  • 1 Tbsp syrup, jam, jelly, sugar or honey
  • 2 Tbsp light syrup
  • 6 chicken nuggets
  • 1/2 cup of casserole
  • 1 cup of soup
  • 1/4 serving of a medium french fry”


With this list in mind and a little bit of commitment, you will be able to enjoy eating what you like (as long as they are in the correct proportions)! Be sure to check out the nutrition section at DiabeticCare for some great, healthy snacks and meal replacements.

By: DiabeticCare editorial team; Published: 12-12-2013, 3:30 PM

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