Healthy cooking for a diabetes diet doesn’t have to be dull. Does this sound like boring meals to you: Garlicky pasta loaded with vegetables and grilled shrimp; steaming-hot soup served with crusty whole-grain bread; leafy salad topped with grilled chicken, nuts, and tangy balsamic dressing; yogurt and fresh fruit? These are all examples of tasty dishes that fit into a healthy type 2 diabetes diet. You can enjoy a variety of satisfying and flavorful foods — all while controlling your blood sugar and watching your weight.
When fixing your own plate and cooking at home make sure that your meals contain these key elements:
- Plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit in a bright array of colors
- Plenty of fiber — incorporate whole-grain cereals and breads
- Skinless poultry, fish, or lean meat
Additional considerations for smart diabetes meals include limiting foods made with white flour, sticking to small portion sizes— particularly for fruits, starches, and milk — and opting for healthy preparation methods such as grilling, broiling, steaming, and baking. Choosing the right foods and cooking techniques will not only provide you with the nutrients you need, it’ll help you avoid consuming unhealthy fats and excess calories.
People following a type 2 diabetes diet don’t have to eat “special” food, but making healthy, diabetes-friendly substitutions in unhealthy recipes is important. These substitutions can help control weight, promote heart health, and stabilize blood sugar levels. It’s also important for those with type 2 diabetes to limit saturated fat intake, since they are already at an increased risk for developing heart disease. Make easy substitutions to cut down on saturated fat — replace butter with canola oil, olive oil, or an olive-oil based spread. Coconut oil is also a substitution to consider. One of the keys to creating healthy diabetes meals is to reduce sugar in recipes. “Use fruit purees or Stevia.
Making Easy Meals for a Diabetes Diet
Simple diabetes-friendly dishes with fresh ingredients are easy to make, nutritious, and delicious. Try these meal ideas:
- A grilled or baked chicken breast served with brown rice and a leafy green salad topped with more fresh veggies and a vinegar and oil-based dressing
- Whole-wheat linguini tossed with lots of fresh vegetables and sprinkled with a little Parmesan cheese
- A whole-wheat wrap stuffed with lean turkey breast, spinach, tomatoes, and a spoonful of hummus spread
- Homemade black bean soup with tomatoes, onions, and zesty seasonings
- Ground turkey and chopped veggie burgers served on a toasted whole-wheat bun with crisp, fresh veggies on the side