Diabetes and healthy meal planning

Planning healthy and delicious meals is a smart thing to do, especially if you have diabetes. It can help you manage your blood glucose levels and keep you feeling your best. Here are some tips to get you started.

Ten tips for planning meals

1. Write down what you will eat

Use a menu planning sheet to write down what you will eat this week. 

2. Choose a variety of foods 

Try to include three or four food groups from Canada’s Food Guide at each meal. Three food groups may look like this: salad, brown rice and grilled chicken. This will help ensure you get a mix of carbohydrate, protein and fat. Not sure where to start? Get some ideas from this Diabetes Menu Plan.

3. Use diabetes-friendly cookbooks and recipes 

Try these Healthy Diabetes Recipe Booklets and recipes from the Canadian Diabetes Association to help you with your meal planning. Look for these cookbooks at your local library or bookstore.

  • Diabetes Comfort Food
  • Canada’s Diabetes Meals for Good Health 
  • 150 Best Indian, Asian, Caribbean and more Diabetes Recipes

4. Eat regularly 

Eat three meals per day at regular times. Try not to have your meals more than six hours apart.

5. Manage your portions 

When you sit down to your meal, fill half your plate with vegetables, a quarter with protein (like chicken, fish, tofu) and the other quarter with grains (like bread, rice, pasta). Learn more in this fact sheet

6. Prepare healthy snacks 

You may need to include a healthy snack between meals or in the evening. Planning healthy snacks will help you avoid less healthy choices at convenience stores or coffee shops.  Try these healthy snack ideas.

7. Write a grocery shopping list 

A shopping list will help ensure you buy what you will need to make healthy meals and follow your meal plan.

8. Read the nutrition label 

Many people with diabetes use the Nutrition Label to find out about the amount of carbohydrates, fibre, sugar and fat in certain foods. Bonus! Watch these videos to learn how to read the Nutrition Label.

9. Plan ahead when eating out 

Whether you are eating in a fancy restaurant or the drive-thru, it’s important to make healthy food choices. Use these tips when eating out.

10. Ask for some help 

Ask your doctor for a referral to a Diabetes Education Program. You can see a dietitian and develop a meal plan that fits your needs. 

Bottom line 

With a little planning, you can develop a healthy meal plan that suits your needs and helps you manage your diabetes.  Connect with a Registered Dietitian at 1-877-510-510-2 to get useful advice and resources on meal planning.

You may also be interested in

Diabetes and carbohydrate counting
Diabetes and dining out
Diabetes and healthier fat choices

Last Update – September 21, 2016

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If you have questions about what you've read here, or other questions about food, nutrition or healthy eating, click to email our Registered Dietitians or call 1-877-510-5102.