Healthy eating habits make managing diabetes easier.

Eating well to maintain a healthy weight is one of the most important things you can do to lower your risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

It can seem hard to make healthy food choices, particularly if you are on a budget and short on time. But there are some simple steps you can take to help you and your family eat healthier.

Build a healthier plate.

Use a grocery list when shopping for food to help you choose more fresh vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.

  • Instead of stressing out about the foods you’re trying not to eat, focus on the foods you need to eat more of. Go to ChooseMyPlate.gov to find out how many servings of veggies, fruits and whole grains you need each day, and work on achieving those goals. You’ll be so busy (and so full!) “focusing on the positive” that you won’t miss that hot fudge sundae.
  • Buy leaner meats (such as chicken, turkey, and lean cuts of pork or beef such as sirloin or chuck roast) and lower-fat dairy products (like low-fat or skim milk and yogurt).
  • Buy whole-grain breads and cereals.
  • Save money by drinking more water and buying less soda, sweets, and chips or other snack foods.
  • Remember that special “dietetic” or “diabetic” foods often cost extra money and may not be much healthier than simply following the suggestions given here.

Shop smart.

Set aside time to plan weekly meals. Having a plan (and writing your grocery list with it in mind) can save you time, stress, and extra trips to the store.

  • Stock your pantry with plenty of healthy basics, including brown rice, and whole-grain pasta, crackers, and cereals.
  • Remember that fresh fruits and vegetables are usually healthier than canned or frozen, but it is better to have canned or frozen fruits or vegetables than none at all!
  • When you run out, put the items on your grocery list so you’ll always have them on hand.
  • Shop only from your grocery list.
  • Avoid aisles that contain foods high in calories but low in vitamins and minerals such as candy, cookies, chips, and sodas. Also avoid buying items promoted at the front of the store, on the “end cap” displays at the end of each aisle, or at the cash register. These foods are usually low in nutrition.
  • Never shop when you are hungry and might be tempted by a less healthy food.

Eat smart.

To reduce sodium in canned vegetables, drain and rinse them before heating in fresh water. Do the same to cut added sugar in canned fruits or buy them packed in juice (not syrup).

  • Try starting meals with a salad or a broth- or tomato-based soup with lots of vegetables. This helps you eat more good-for-you veggies while filling you up before you get to the higher-fat and calorie courses.
  • Make healthy snack foods easy to find in your kitchen. For example, when you get home from work or school, put some fresh carrots, grapes, or pretzels out on the counter instead of a bag of chips.
  • In restaurants, ask if meats can be grilled rather than fried, and request sauces and dressings on the side. Remember to choose fruit, salad, or other vegetables as side items, rather than French fries. Order a salad or soup to start and then share an entrée. Save money, and lots of calories, by skipping dessert.
  • The American Diabetes Association’s website has lots of easy-to-prepare recipes that are tasty, healthy, and budget-friendly. View them here .

Count carbohydrates

The amount of starches, sugars and fiber you eat can can greatly impact your ability to manage your diabetes. The American Diabetes Association has important information on its website to help you understand carbohydrates and their role in your diet. To visit it, click here .

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