Diabetes is a complicated disease, but sometimes a few simple lifestyle changes are all you need to manage it effectively—or even better, prevent it.

Diabetes Prevention at the Table

Type 2 diabetes is the most common, and prevention can begin with some basic lifestyle changes, especially at mealtimes.

What’s in a good meal plan?

Having a meal plan allows you to organize your menus, streamline your grocery buying, and incorporate your tastes, goals, and lifestyle into what you serve on your table.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a healthy diabetes-friendly meal plan should include:

  • Non-starchy vegetables, such as green beans, spinach, and broccoli
  • Lower amounts of added sugars and refined grains, such as rice, white bread, and pasta that contains two grams of fiber or fewer per serving
  • Focus on whole foods as much as possible rather than processed foods

A few food types warrant a more in-depth look at their influence on diabetes:


Plants are an excellent source of the vitamins and minerals necessary for any diet. They are also sources of carbohydrates, or carbs, which supply sugars and starches, the energy sources for your body.

Carbohydrates raise blood sugar levels. The food you eat and what you eat with it determines how fast the carbs raise your blood sugar.

  • Fruit juice elevates blood sugar faster than eating whole fruit
  • Combining carbs with foods rich in fat, protein, and fiber slows down the rate at which blood sugar rises
  • Planning each meal to include about the same amount of carbs can be helpful
  • Avoid “bad carbohydrates” that are high in sugar but poor sources of nutrients and fiber
  • Examples of bad carbohydrates include fruit juices, pastries, white bread, pasta made from white flour, processed foods made with high-fructose corn syrup or with sugar

Avoid carbs but enjoy fiber-rich foods:

Fiber-rich foods are your friend

You can help prevent diabetes by serving healthy, fiber-rich foods.

  • Fruits from fruit trees and other fruits, such as peppers and tomatoes
  • Non-starchy vegetables, such as cauliflower, broccoli, and leafy greens
  • Legumes, such as lentils, chickpeas, and beans
  • Whole grains, such as whole-grain rice, quinoa, whole oats, whole-wheat pasta and bread

Also, be aware of your intake of fatty foods. Stick to unsaturated fats like olive oils, seeds and nuts, and fatty fish.

Foods and Drinks to Remove from the Table

Completely banishing any food or drink from your diet is simply not realistic. But pledging to yourself that you’ll limit these foods as part of your meal plans is doable. So, when you plan meals, try to keep any of these ingredients a rare occurrence.

  • Fried foods and those high in trans-fat and saturated fats
  • Foods high in salt content
  • Sweets, such as candy, pastries and other baked goods, and ice cream
  • Drinks that include added sugars, such as juice, sports or energy drinks, and regular soda

Remember: You can never go wrong with a glass of water.

Diabetes Prevention vs. Cure

They say it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than to obtain permission. In the same vein, it’s easier to prevent diabetes than cure it.