What Foods Should You Limit with Diabetes?

Managing diabetes requires careful attention to your diet. Eating the right foods can help you keep your blood sugar levels in check. You have plenty of options, such as beef, chicken, fish, pork, turkey, seafood, beans, cheese, eggs, nuts, and tofu. To ensure your blood sugar levels remain stable, it's important to plan regular, balanced meals.

Eating approximately the same amount of carbohydrates at each meal can be beneficial. Counting carbohydrates and using the plate method are two common strategies that can make meal planning easier. If you're uncertain of what to include in your eating plan, a dietician can provide advice to meet your nutritional needs. Alison Massey, RD, a certified diabetes educator in Frederick, Maryland, suggests eating a variety of foods while controlling portions for high-carb foods to reach your blood sugar goal.

It's also wise to avoid foods with hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils, as well as those with liquid oils. Processed or packaged foods should be avoided or limited in the diet for diabetes because they often contain added sugars and processed carbohydrates, as well as high levels of sodium. To make sure you're selecting the most diabetes-friendly foods from each food group, here are some tips to keep in mind.

Tips for Choosing Diabetes-Friendly Foods

Fruits and Vegetables: Choose fresh fruits and vegetables whenever possible. Frozen and canned fruits and vegetables are also healthy options, but watch out for added sugars or syrups in canned varieties.

When selecting canned vegetables, look for those labeled “low sodium” or “no salt added”.


Choose whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, oats, and barley. Avoid refined grains such as white bread and white rice.


Choose low-fat or fat-free dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and cheese. Avoid full-fat dairy products.


Choose lean proteins such as skinless chicken breast, fish, beans, tofu, and nuts. Avoid processed meats such as bacon and sausage.


Choose healthy fats such as olive oil, avocado oil, and nut butters.

Avoid unhealthy fats such as butter and lard.


Choose sweets that are low in added sugars such as dark chocolate and fresh fruit. Avoid sweets that are high in added sugars such as candy and soda. By following these tips for choosing diabetes-friendly foods, you can help keep your blood sugar levels in check while still enjoying a variety of delicious meals.