Unlike type 1 diabetes—which is a genetic disorder—type 2 diabetes results from an unhealthy sedentary lifestyle, generally characterized by a bad diet and very little to zero physical activity. These poor health habits are responsible for excess sugar in the body, so making conscious efforts to avoid what triggers high blood glucose levels is vital in preventing the disorder.

But what if you are already experiencing symptoms or have just been diagnosed with diabetes? Although managing diabetes is going to be a lifelong battle, a diabetes-friendly diet can help keep the disease under control.

Our infographic will focus on how to manage diabetes through healthy eating, giving you a comprehensive guide to the best diets to follow to curb the disease.



What is a diabetic diet?1


A healthy diet is important for everyone. But for people with diabetes, particularly type 2 diabetes, the risk of developing the disease significantly increases if you constantly make poor food choices. This is where the importance of a diabetic diet comes into play.

The idea behind a diabetic diet is to encourage healthy eating, so blood sugar levels remain stable or manageable. To achieve this goal, you should plan your meals to include nutritious food items in the right amounts.

Here are eight types of diets that tick those boxes for people with diabetes:


Low-Carb Diet2

When you consume carbohydrates, your body breaks them down into small glucose units that end up as blood sugar. If you have diabetes, it’s not advisable to eat a lot of this macronutrient since it can spike your sugar levels. Ideally, your carb intake should be between 20 grams and 30 grams per day. However, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends you consult your doctor as to the number of carbs suitable for you.

To adopt a low-carb diet, avoid the starch and sugar components found in plant-based foods, as these carb types are what cause blood sugar levels to rise. By contrast, fiber—another component of carbs naturally present in food—doesn’t convert into glucose, so consuming it is safe for your blood sugar.

A good practice is to know the net carb content of foods. For instance, even though 1 cup of cauliflower contains 5g of carbs, 3g of it is fiber. That leaves you with 2g of carbs.


Mediterranean Diet3


Technically speaking, the Mediterranean diet is not a diet but a way of eating based on traditional Greek and Italian cuisines. Although the diet is associated with heart health, research has shown the diet to be effective in fighting diabetes without needing to use medications.

This diet is rich in vegetables and gets most calories from whole grains. Other plant-based foods like legumes, nuts, seeds, herbs, and spices are also staples in the Mediterranean diet. For healthy fats, followers of this diet consume avocados or olive oil while cutting down on red meat. Wine is allowed as long as it’s limited to one drink or two per day for women and men, respectively, based on ADA’s recommendations.


Paleo Diet4


This diet is a reference to our Paleolithic ancestors who hunted food to eat in the absence of modern farming techniques. As such, it leans heavily towards food found in nature, such as lean meat and seafood, fruits and vegetables, eggs, nuts (except peanuts), and seeds. On the other hand, processed foods, dairy, and refined sugar are avoided by paleo adopters. 

There is evidence that the paleo diet has health benefits for the obese and diabetics. Even short-term consumption produced favorable results in controlling glucose among people living with type 2 diabetes. 

Going on the paleo diet doesn’t necessarily mean not being able to enjoy great-tasting food. You can add flavor to your vegetables and protein by using herbs and spices such as garlic, capers, ginger, basil, and cilantro, among others.




DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, but its health benefits are not confined to controlling your blood pressure. In following the DASH plan, you’ll be limiting your intake of sweets and sugary beverages to keep the symptoms of diabetes at bay while also helping you shed some pounds since this diet is low in fat and sodium.

A typical eating plan in DASH includes fish or poultry, vegetables, whole grains, fruits, fat-free or low-fat dairy, and healthy fats like vegetable oil.


The Zone Diet6


The Zone diet was developed by Dr. Barry Sears to promote healthy insulin and, thus, blood glucose levels.

The Zone diet was also designed to reduce dietary inflammation, which refers to how processed foods can alter gut bacteria and negatively affect the immune system. Another factor contributing to inflammation in the body is insulin resistance, which refers to how the body fails to use insulin properly, which is a primary type 2 diabetes cause.

What makes the Zone effective as a diabetic diet is its balance: comprising one-third protein, two-thirds carbs, and just a dash of unsaturated fat since all types of fats have high-calorie content.

Plant-Based Diet7


As the name suggests, this diet avoids or limits meat like chicken and fish but includes more plant foods. According to research, people on a plant-based diet are 23% less likely to develop diabetes since they consume less fat, allowing insulin to work properly in regulating blood sugar levels.

Either a vegan or vegetarian diet becomes your go-to food plan when you choose to go plant-based. The difference between the two is that being a vegan involves not eating any animal products, including milk, honey, or gelatin. In contrast, a vegetarian diet is less restrictive since you can consume eggs, butter, and other animal products.

Vegan and vegetarian-friendly foods include whole grains, soy, and dark, leafy vegetables, to mention a few. However, potatoes—being a starchy vegetable—aren’t considered healthy for plant-based diets.

To ensure you don’t miss out on vital nutrients by following a plant-based diet, you may need to get supplements that contain calcium, iodine, vitamin B-12, and zinc.

Pro tip: If you want to have meat or animal protein while trying a plant-based diet, you may do so but make sure to include more vegetables in the dish.


The Plate Method8


This simple meal planning method involves putting the right type of food in proper amounts on your plate. That is, half of your plate must include food that comes from non-starchy veggies: spinach, carrots, or asparagus. 

A quarter of your plate must have protein, which can be chicken, lean pork, or tuna. The last quarter of your plate can either be for whole grains, such as brown rice, or a starchy vegetable, such as potatoes or green peas.

Other food items allowed are healthy fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) in small amounts so that you can have nuts or avocados. A small serving of fruits or dairy and unsweetened tea or coffee is fine, too.


Weight Watchers9


This diabetic diet uses a point system with assigned values for foods and drinks based on how much fiber, fat, and calories they contain. Food items with low point values, such as vegetables, let you eat as much of them as you want. However, if foods have high point values like processed or fast foods, you need to limit “spending” your points by eating less of them.

Since you’re conscious of the importance of healthy food choices and proper portion control, it’s easy to achieve your weight loss goals that can lead to your blood sugar being restored to healthy levels.

Defeat Diabetes Through Diet


Choosing the right diet is vital in blood sugar control and diabetes management. Just make sure to consult your nutritionist or doctor when choosing the best diet based on your health condition and nutritional needs. And as you work to prevent or manage diabetes, consider checking out this Heart Disease Risk checklist to help you know if you need to consult your doctor for possible coronary heart disease.






Disclaimer: The information provided is for information purposes only and is not meant to be substituted for the advice given by a registered medical practitioner. This should not be used for diagnosing health problems or for self-medication. Boehringer Ingelheim shall not be responsible for any damages or losses arising out of access to or use of information provided.


Last medically reviewed on July 5, 2022