Foods to Eat & Avoid for Diabetics

Updated November 21, 2016

Approximately 7.8 per cent of Americans have diabetes. There are four major types of diabetes: type I, type II, gestational and pre-diabetes. While there is presently no cure for diabetes, diabetes can be controlled with a proper diet.


Diabetes is a disease that affects the body's ability to produce or use insulin properly. Insulin is a hormone needed by the body in order to convert sugar, starches and other foods into energy. Whether or not an individual is at risk for diabetes depends on that individual's genetic disposition and diet.

Foods to Avoid

Since diabetes effects blood sugar levels, it is important that individuals with diabetes avoid all sugars, including foods and drinks that contain sugar such as candy, gum, desserts, sodas, pastries and syrups. Starchy vegetables like potatoes and sweet fruits such as bananas, mangoes, grapes and dried fruits should also be avoided. Other foods like meats, fats, processed grains, salt and caffeine can also aggravate diabetes in some individuals.

Foods to Eat

Individuals with diabetes should focus on eating balanced, low-fat meals. Include non-starchy vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, spinach and green beans at lunch and dinner. Eat fish two to three times a week and select lean meats or vegetarian meals using lentils, pinto beans or kidney beans at other meals. Also choose whole grains such as brown rice, whole wheat noodles and whole wheat bread over traditional white counter parts. Enjoy at least one serving of permitted fruit each day and use low-fat dairy products regularly.

Additionally, artificial sweeteners such as Sweet'n Low, Equal and Splenda are safe for diabetics and can be used as a substitute for sugar in most recipes. Foods containing artificial sweeteners such as diet sodas and sugar-free candies are also safe for diabetics.

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About the Author

Lindsay Nixon has been writing since 2007. Her work has appeared in "Vegetarian Times," "Women's Health Magazine" and online for The Huffington Post. She is also a published author, lawyer and certified personal trainer. Nixon has two Bachelors of Arts in classics and communications from the College of Charleston and a Juris Doctor from the New England School of Law.