Diabetes is a well-known disease that causes high blood sugar. While many people know what this disease is, many do not know how to change their eating habits to adequately fit this new lifestyle.

Nutrition is very important in helping to control blood sugar, which ultimately will help in the overall management of diabetes. 

Eating healthy should be a core part of meal planning when managing diabetes. It is important to know what foods will help your glucose levels and which ones will cause problems. Healthy diabetic meal planning can be so beneficial that high medication doses are not always necessary. 

It is important to understand that everyone’s body responds differently to foods and diets, therefore there is no “magic” diet to cure diabetes. There are some simple guidelines to follow to see what works best for you in helping to manage your blood sugar levels. 

Just because you have to watch what you are eating does not mean that your food has to be boring. 

There are a lot of choices when it comes to managing your diabetes with nutrition. There is no “one size fits all” method, so be sure to include non-starchy vegetables, limit refined grains and added sugars, and stay away from processed foods in the diet you choose. 

According to the American Diabetes Association (www.diabetes.org) using the diabetes plate method creates perfectly portioned meals that have a healthy balance of vegetables, carbohydrates and protein. 

The diabetes plate method consists of filling up half of your plate with non-starchy vegetables, a quarter of your plate with carbohydrates and the other quarter with lean protein. Finish the meal off with water or a zero-calorie drink. 

Non-starchy vegetables are low in carbohydrates, so they do not raise blood sugar much. These vegetables are a good source of vitamins and minerals, which is important in a healthy diet.

Some good examples of these vegetables are asparagus, cabbage, carrots, cucumbers, kale, lettuce, zucchini, tomatoes and more. 

Carbohydrates play a vital role in the management of diabetes. These carbs impact your blood sugar, so learning to balance them in your diet is a key component.

Good examples of carbohydrates include brown rice, popcorn, quinoa, butternut squash, potatoes, legumes, fruits and dairy products. 

Lean proteins are lower in fat, making them a healthier choice for managing a diet. Some good examples of lean proteins are chicken, turkey, lean beef, lean pork, shrimp, lobster, eggs, cheese, lentils and nuts. 

By using this diabetes plate method and incorporating these foods into your diet, this is a great start to finding a diet that works best for you. 

For more information, contact your local registered dietitian.

Kale Soup

 with Turkey and Beans

2 teaspoons of canola oil 

1 diced onion

1/2 cup diced green pepper

1 clove minced garlic

6 ounces lean ground turkey

32 ounces low sodium chicken broth 

1/2 cup canned crushed tomatoes

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper 

One 15.5-ounce can rinsed, drained black-eyed peas

3 cups chopped kale

3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese


Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and green peppers, sauté 3 minutes or until clear. Add the garlic, sauté for 30 seconds.

Add turkey and cook 8 minutes or until brown. Add remaining ingredients except for Parmesan cheese.

Bring soup to a boil; then reduce the heat and simmer 15 minutes.

Remove soup from heat and stir in Parmesan cheese.

Quinoa Oatmeal

2 cups of skim milk

1/2 cup of water 

3/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats

1/4 cup quinoa

2 teaspoons honey

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 

1/8 teaspoon salt 

1/2 cup raspberries

1/4 cup toasted, sliced almonds 


Combine milk and water in large saucepan, bring to a simmer over medium heat.

Add oats, quinoa, honey, cinnamon, vanilla and salt. Reduce heat to low. Cover, cook about 15 minutes until oats and quinoa are tender, stirring occasionally.

Serve topped with raspberries and almonds.

Find more recipes by visiting www.diabetesfoodhub.org.


OLIVIA HARRIS is a senior majoring in food and nutrition at the University of Tennessee at Martin.

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