Diabetes meal planner template

Diabetes Meal Planning

Counting carbs and the plate method are two common tools that can also help you plan meals.

A meal plan is your guide for when, what, and how much to eat to get the nutrition you need while keeping your blood sugar levels in your target range. A good meal plan will take into account your goals, tastes, and lifestyle, as well as any medicines you’re taking.

You’ll want to plan for regular, balanced meals to avoid high or low blood sugar levels. Eating about the same amount of carbs at each meal can help.

Carbs, protein, fat, and fiber in food all affect your blood sugar in different ways. Carbs can raise your blood sugar faster and higher than protein or fat. Fiber can help you manage your blood sugar, so carbs that have fiber in them, like sweet potatoes, won’t raise your blood sugar as fast as carbs with little or no fiber, such as soda.

Counting Carbs

For more information about counting carbs, see Diabetes and Carbs.

Keeping track of how many carbs you eat and setting a limit for each meal can help keep your blood sugar levels in your target range. Work with your doctor or dietitian to find out how many carbs you can eat each day and at each meal, and then refer to this list of common foods that contain carbs and serving sizes. For more information about counting carbs, see Diabetes and Carbs.

Another way to manage the carbs you eat is using the glycemic indexexternal icon (GI). The GI ranks carbs in food from 0 to 100 according to how much they affect blood sugar. Low GI foods are more slowly digested and absorbed by your body, so you stay full longer. They don’t have a big impact on your blood sugar. High GI foods are digested and absorbed more quickly. They have a bigger impact on your blood sugar, and you’ll get hungry sooner. Some examples:

The Plate Method

It’s easy to eat more food than you need without realizing it. The plate method is a simple, visual way to make sure you get enough non-starchy vegetables and lean protein, and limit the amount of higher-carb food that has the greatest potential to spike your blood sugar.

Start with a 9-inch dinner plate:

  • Fill half with non-starchy vegetables, such as salad, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and carrots.
  • Fill one quarter with a lean protein, such as chicken, turkey, beans, tofu, or eggs.
  • Fill a quarter with a grain or starchy food, such as potatoes, rice, or pasta (or skip the starch altogether and double up on non-starchy veggies).

Portion Distortion Quiz

Did you know? Food portions are much larger now than they were 20 years ago. Test your knowledge of portion distortion hereexternal icon.

Portion Size

Portion size and serving size aren’t always the same. A portion is the amount of food you choose to eat at one time, while a serving is a specific amount of food, such as one slice of bread or 8 ounces (1 cup) of milk.

These days, portions at restaurants are quite a bit larger than they were several years ago. One entrée can equal 3 or 4 servings! Studies show that people tend to eat more when they’re served more food, so getting portions under control is really important for managing weight and blood sugar.

If you’re eating out, have half of your meal wrapped up to go so you can enjoy it at a later time. At home, measure out snacks; don’t eat straight from the bag or box. At dinnertime, dish out one serving of each dish per plate. Reduce the temptation to go back for seconds by keeping the serving bowls out of reach. And with this “handy” guide, you’ll always have a way to estimate portion size at your fingertips:

  1. 3 ounces of meat, fish, or poultry
    Palm of hand (no fingers)
  2. 1 ounce of meat or cheese
    Thumb (tip to base)
  3. 1 cup or 1 medium fruit
  4. 1–2 ounces of nuts or pretzels
    Cupped hand
  5. 1 tablespoon
    Thumb tip (tip to 1st joint)
  6. 1 teaspoon
    Fingertip (tip to 1st joint)

5-Day Diabetes Meal Plan for Summer

Yes, it’s possible to eat deliciously with diabetes-especially in the summer when fruits and vegetables are ripe and in season. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the idea of planning your meals, try following a meal plan for a few days to see what a healthy eating plan should look like. This 5-day meal plan, based on a daily target of 1,500 calories and 165 grams carbs, features in-season fruits and vegetables, healthy fats and lean protein to promote weight loss and help you stabilize your blood sugar.

Related: Best Healthy Foods for Diabetes

What makes this a healthy meal plan for diabetes?

  • We’ve included whole-grain carbohydrates to help keep you satisfied.
  • We cut back on saturated fats and sodium, which may negatively impact health.
  • The carbohydrates are balanced throughout the day with a goal of 3-4 carb servings (45-60 grams of carbohydrates) at each meal.
  • Each snack contains about 1 carb serving (15 grams of carbohydrates).
  • We’ve even saved room for dessert and drinks so you have healthy options when you have a craving.

See All of Our Healthy Diabetes Meal Plans

How many daily calories should you aim for? Talk to your doctor or dietitian to determine what’s right for you based on your age, activity level and weight-loss goals. In this plan, the calorie and carbohydrate totals are listed next to each meal and snack so you can swap in foods with similar nutrition as you like. And don’t forget about leftovers! Save yourself some time by trading a lunch recipe for last night’s dinner. Mix up your routine with these easy and delicious recipes that will have you out of the kitchen-and enjoying all that summer has to offer.

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Breakfast (360 calories, 40 g carbohydrates)

  • 1 serving Strawberry-Orange Breakfast Cakes
  • 1 clementine

A.M. Snack (154 calories, 20 g carbohydrates)

  • 2 carrots
  • ¼ cup hummus

Lunch (327 calories, 29 g carbohydrates)

  • 1 serving Tomato Salad with Lemon-Basil Vinaigrette
  • Avocado Toast (1 slice whole-wheat toast + ½ avocado, mashed + 1 tsp. Sriracha)

P.M. Snack (141 calories, 17 g carbohydrates)

  • 10 unsalted almonds
  • 1 cup raspberries

Dinner (373 calories, 38 g carbohydrates)

  • 1 serving Chipotle Chicken Satay with Grilled Vegetables
  • 1/2 cup brown rice

Daily total: 1,355 calories, 145 g carbohydrates

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Breakfast (331 calories, 29 g carbohydrates)

  • 1¼ cups nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • ¾ cup raspberries
  • 2 Tbsp. walnuts
  • 1 tsp. honey

A.M. Snack (143 calories, 15 g carbohydrates)

  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1 Tbsp. unsalted peanut butter
  • 1 clementine

Lunch (289 calories, 37 g carbohydrates)

  • 1 serving Pulled Chicken & Pickled Veggie Wraps
  • 1 cup strawberries

P.M. Snack (185 calories, 17 g carbohydrates)

  • 5 whole-wheat crackers
  • 1 oz. reduced-fat Cheddar cheese

Dinner (408 calories, 45 g carbohydrates)

  • 1 serving Better-Than-Takeout Burgers with Sweet Potato Fries

Daily total: 1,357 calories, 143 g carbohydrates

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Breakfast (296 calories, 41 g carbohydrates)

  • 1 serving Coconut-Cashew Breakfast Bites
  • 1 clementine

A.M. Snack (156 calories, 18 g carbohydrates)

  • 1 cup sugar snap peas
  • ¼ cup hummus

Lunch (375 calories, 33 g carbohydrates)

  • 1 serving Grilled Salmon Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette
  • 2 carrots

P.M. Snack (145 calories, 19 g carbohydrates)

  • 10 unsalted almonds
  • 1 peach

Dinner (351 calories, 45 g carbohydrates)

  • 1 serving Sheet Pan Orange-Apricot Drumsticks
  • 1 cup mixed greens
  • 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

Daily total: 1,323 calories, 156 g carbohydrates

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Breakfast (336 calories, 31 g carbohydrates)

  • 1¼ cups nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup sliced strawberries
  • 2 Tbsp. walnuts
  • 1 tsp. honey

A.M. Snack (146 calories, 15 g carbohydrates)

  • 1 Tbsp. unsalted peanut butter
  • 2 carrots

Lunch (329 calories, 40 g carbohydrates)

  • 1 serving Chicken Potpie with Cauliflower Topping
  • 2 clementines

P.M. Snack (139 calories, 15 g carbohydrates)

  • ¼ cup part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 3 sliced tomatoes
  • Basil leaves

Dinner (365 calories, 49 g carbohydrates)

  • 1 serving Broccolini, Chicken Sausage & Orzo Skillet
  • ½ cup raspberries

Daily total: 1,314 calories, 150 g carbohydrates

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Breakfast (271 calories, 42 g carbohydrates)

  • 1 slice whole-wheat toast
  • 1 Tbsp. unsalted peanut butter
  • 1 sliced banana

A.M. Snack (135 calories, 16 g carbohydrates)

  • 1 cup raw green beans
  • ¼ cup hummus

Lunch (378 calories, 55 g carbohydrates)

  • 1 serving BLT Pizza

P.M. Snack (176 calories, 17 g carbohydrates)

  • 1 hard-boiled egg
  • 5 whole-wheat crackers

Dinner (392 calories, 44 g carbohydrates)

  • 1 serving Raspberry-Pineapple Fish Tacos
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium canned black beans

Daily total: 1,351 calories, 174 g carbohydrates

Healthy Drink Options

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It’s important to stay hydrated, especially in the summer. Sip water throughout each day, and choose from these other low-carbohydrate drink options.

Coffee + 2 tsp. 1% milk
6 calories, 1 g carbohydrates

1% Milk (8 oz.)
102 calories, 12 g carbohydrates

Raspberry Ginger Lime Seltzer
21 calories, 5.5 g carbohydrates

Healthy Dessert Options

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We made room for dessert! Choose one occasionally to satisfy a craving.

Key Lime Mason Jar Cheesecakes
118 calories, 16 g carbohydrates

Blueberry-Swirl Buttermilk Ice Cream
122 calories, 19 g carbohydrates

Mango Tiramisù
147 calories, 27 g carbohydrates

Note: This meal plan is controlled for calories, carbohydrates, fiber, saturated fat and sodium. If another nutrient is of particular concern, speak with your health care provider about altering this meal plan to better suit your individual health needs.

  • Customize Your Plan

    Enter a few details about your lifestyle and health goals, and receive a diabetes-friendly daily meal plan that will help you keep your blood-sugar levels in check without ever feeling hungry.

  • Start Feeling Better

    Reaching your weight loss and health goals is easier when you follow a nutritionist-approved eating plan for diabetes. Dropping pounds will help lower your blood sugar and improve the way you look and feel.

  • Eat Foods You Love

    Yes, you can eat delicious meals when you have diabetes! Your personalized meal plan lets you easily swap in foods to suit your needs and tastes.

  • Diabetes Cooking 101

    Browse through thousands of our easy and delicious diabetes-friendly recipes that the whole family will enjoy. From lightened up versions of your favorite comfort foods to guilt-free desserts, we’ve got it all.

  • A Plan That Works for You

    Your daily meal plan will be tailored to match your recommended number of calories. Use our nutritionist-approved plan or build your own with our collection of thousands of foods and recipes.

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