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Nutrition for Diabetics
by Melinda Navarro, RN, MPH

Are you diabetic and not sure what you can or can’t eat?

You are not alone. The most important concept to keep in mind is balance. There are a few basic things you need to know in order to maintain the glucose levels established by your physician and to prevent complications that are associated with diabetes.

Here are some suggestions:

• Add color to your plate by choosing a variety of fruits and vegetables.

• Eat whole grain foods such as whole wheat breads, pasta and rice.

• Prepare meals by baking, broiling or grilling and using oils like canola or olive.

• Select dairy products that are nonfat or have reduced fat.

• Try to include dried beans and lentils with your meal plan.

• Include lean cuts of meat, chicken and turkey without the skin, or fish.

• Choose to drink water or diet drinks instead of sugary drinks.

• Reduce fat by choosing items with healthy fats such as nuts or avocados.

• Always watch those portion sizes – healthy foods also have calories that contribute to weight gain.

Please keep in mind that the number of servings from each food group is different for diabetics than for nondiabetics. If you are not certain about what you should be including or excluding from your meal plan, speak to your health care provider about a referral to a registered dietitian. In addition to nutrition, be sure to make physical activity part of your normal day, which also helps to lower blood sugar levels. Finally, prior to making changes, make it a point to discuss your meal plan and physical activity routine with your health care provider.

For more information on nutrition for diabetics, visit the American Diabetes Association (ADA) Web site at

You and your family can learn more about diabetes at the Diabetes Expo hosted by the ADA on March 15, 2008, at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Exhibit Hall A from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. For specific details of the event, please visit ADA’s Web site.

Melinda Navarro, RN, MPH is the school liaison for Steps to a Healthier San Antonio with Metro Health. The program is part of Steps to a HealthierUS, a national program focusing on the prevention of diabetes, obesity and asthma by addressing related risk factors such as poor nutrition, physical inactivity and tobacco use and exposure.



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