Type 2 Diabetes Diet: What To Include in Your Diet

With type 2 diabetes, eating is part of the treatment. Along with physical exercise and medication prescribed by your doctor, it's one of the pillars to achieve successful results in glycemic control.
Type 2 Diabetes Diet: What To Include in Your Diet

Last update: 11 August, 2020

Although diabetes is a chronic disease, you can treat it with a proper diet, consistent physical activity, and medication. You shouldn’t only focus your efforts on medicines.

As we already know, diabetes is a condition that can appear because the body attacks itself and the pancreas loses the ability to produce insulin. Or it can develop through inappropriate lifestyles that, over time, alter the production and use of insulin.

Considering that diabetes can manifest itself in different ways, we must be clear that type 2 is the most common form of the disease, and is associated with the excessive accumulation of abdominal fat, obesity, and physical inactivity.

Diabetes diet

You should keep in mind that a proper diet is one of the fundamental pillars to treat this disease. You’re not only looking for weight loss, but also glycemic control and prevention of future complications.

Don’t forget that a person who develops type 2 diabetes has an alteration in the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.

As a first measure, you should reduce your calorie intake to try to normalize your weight. In addition to this, it’s important to portion your food. According to the Spanish Heart Foundation, ideally you should eat 5 meals a day. That is, have breakfast, lunch, and dinner, adding two snacks between these meals.

Set a schedule

You should set a schedule for meals depending on your needs. This will allow you to meet diet goals for the day. The goal of this is to prevent you from going a long time without eating, thus maintaining normal blood sugar levels. It also helps to prevent hypoglycemia.

In some people, where glucose disturbance is very complicated, it might be helpful to add a nighttime snack.

Woman eating at night.
It’s very important for diabetics to have set times for meals and avoid eating at odd hours.

Choosing carbohydrates

Your focus should be directed towards the type of carbohydrates you eat, considering that they’re fundamental in glycemic control, since they determine up to 50% of the glycemic response.

Whole grains, legumes, and tubers are considered the main sources of carbohydrates in the diet. Not only are they high in starch, but they also contain vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Ideally they should take up a quarter of your plate.

Regarding fruit, the current recommendation is to increase consumption, choosing ones that have a low glycemic index, and whenever possible, eat them with the peel, since that’s where the fiber is.

Avoid glucose drop

As we already mentioned, a glucose drop can appear at any time, so we recommend you always have some food on hand, such as fruit or candy. You should eat it when you detect that you’re having a glycemic drop.

Carbohydrate counting is an extremely effective tool to prevent a glucose drop, and it must be done by a professional.

Foods that are included in the type 2 diabetes diet

In addition to the ones we already mentioned, you can eat:

  • Vegetables: they should take up half of your plate
  • Dairy: without sugars or with suitable sweeteners, choosing low-fat options
  • Lean meats, eggs, and cheese
  • Seeds, nuts, and oils
  • Canned products: no added sugar
  • Jams and sweets: with allowed sweeteners


One aspect that you shouldn’t forget about is hydration. In general, people with diabetes suffer from polyuria (an increase in the amount of urine), so it’s important to drink water throughout the day.

You can also drink sugar-free drinks, infusions such as tea, mate or coffee, as long as they’re sweetened with permitted sweeteners. Occasionally, you can drink fruit drinks if you mix them with water.

Drinking a glass of water.
Hydration is a considerable part of your type 2 diabetes diet.

You might be interested in: The Importance of Health Education

What to avoid?

  • Alcohol: because it has a high hypoglycemic power, especially when you don’t eat food with it.
  • Tobacco: since it not only harms everyone, but in diabetics, alterations in the blood and blood vessels can have long-term consequences.
  • Excess salt: let’s not forget that, like tobacco, excess salt can increase blood pressure.

Scheduled meals are key

In conclusion, scheduling your meals is one of the pillars of the treatment of type 2 diabetes. Without it, it’s difficult to achieve metabolic control, even when you use hypoglycemic drugs. In many cases, together with exercise, it’s the only therapeutic measure.

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