Eating healthy

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You can make a difference in your blood glucose control through your food choices.

When you have diabetes, your body may have problems using the energy from the food you eat. This can cause high blood glucose levels. Balancing what, when and how much you eat will help manage your blood glucose levels.

Understanding how food affects your body

All food affects blood glucose levels. Carbohydrates turn into glucose, affecting your blood glucose levels. There are no good or bad foods. Eating a variety of foods can improve your health and keep mealtimes interesting.

Tip: Fiber

Choose carbohydrate foods that are high in fiber, such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes (navy, kidney and black beans, lentils, etc.). Fiber:

  • slows digestion to make you feel fuller longer
  • slows the rate carbohydrates are absorbed into your bloodstream
  • helps reduce cholesterol by binding to the cholesterol in your digestive tract and getting rid of it

The foods you eat fall into three main groups:

  • Protein: Protein helps build body cells for growth and healing. Some examples of protein include meat, poultry, fish and eggs.
  • Fat: Fat helps the body absorb certain vitamins, lubricate joints and muscles, and adds flavor to food. Some examples of fat are mayonnaise, butter, margarine, oils, nuts and salad dressing.
  • Carbohydrate: Carbohydrates are your best energy source.

Carbohydrate foods

All carbohydrate foods turn into glucose. Carbohydrate foods are starches (breads, crackers, cereals, rice, pasta, potatoes, beans, etc.) fruit and fruit juice, milk, vegetables and sweets.

Do not avoid carbohydrate foods. They should make up 50 to 60 percent of your food plan.

Carbohydrate counting is a way to help you manage the amount of carbohydrate you eat during the day.


It is not healthy to leave out carbohydrate foods while you try to lose weight and control your blood glucose level.

A carbohydrate choice is a serving that contains about 15 grams of carbohydrate. For most people with diabetes, a healthy meal plan has three to five (45 to 75 grams) carbohydrate choices at a meal and one to two (15 to 30 grams) carbohydrate choices for snacks.

Eat your meals and snacks every four to five hours to help even out your blood glucose level. Do not skip meals.

If you do, your body will make make extra glucose to compensate. This can make controlling your blood glucose even harder.

Dietary Carbohydrate Guidelines for Adults

Weight Loss

Maintain Weight


45 to 60 grams (3 to 4 carb choices) per meal

60 to 75 grams (4 to 5 carb choices) per meal


30 to 45 grams (2 to 3 carb choices) per meal

45 to 60 grams (3 to 4 carb choices) per meal

Adobe Reader required to view worksheet Examples of one carbohydrate choice (15 grams)

Grams of carbohydrate   Number of carbohydrate choices
 0 to 5  0
 6 to 10  1/2
 11 to 20  1
 21 to 25  1 1/2
 26 to 35  2
 36 to 40  2 1/2
 41 to 50  3
 51 to 55  3 1/2
 56 to 65  4
 66 to 70  4 1/2
 71 to 80  5


Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Basic Skills for Living with Diabetes, sixth edition
First Published: 11/27/2006
Last Reviewed: 01/09/2015

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