Choices, decisions - confusion? Eating healthy at home starts with a plan - how to navigate the supermarket and buy the best healthy food you can afford. Use this guide on your next shopping trip.


Vegetables and Fruit
Choose a variety of fruits and vegetables - they are nutrient-rich, high in fiber, and low in calories than most prepared snack foods. Fresh, in season, is a great choice, but frozen versions are always handy.

Canned vegetables have more sodium. Prepare vegetables raw, lightly steamed, roasted or grilled. Avoid adding lots of added butter, cheese or sauce. Except for the starchy vegetables, most have less calories and carbohydrate than fruit:

- Broccoli (and other cruciferous vegetables-cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage)
- Onions
- Carrots
-  Spinach
-  Celery
-  Sweet potatoes
-  Potatoes (baked, not French fries or tater tots!)
-  Asparagus
-  Mushrooms
-  Peppers
-  Tomatoes
-  Cucumbers
-  Green beans
-  Greens
-  Beets
-  Garlic
-  Fresh lettuce mixes - dark greens

Fruits contains carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants. The portions of fruit are important to a diabetic meal plan. Fresh fruit is best, but frozen or canned without sugar added is convenient and economical. If using fruit juices, be sure they are 100% juice, not fruit drinks, punches or sweetened soda. A 4 oz. serving of juice is equal to a medium piece of fruit, or 15 grams of carbohydrate:

-  Oranges, all citrus
-  Banana
-  Grapes
-  Berries
-  Apples
-  Peaches
-  Pineapple
-  Melons
-  Dried fruit - raisins, apricots (2 tblsp. is one serving)

Grains and Starches
These foods are generally considered “complex carbohydrates,” which are turned into glucose to give your body energy. Because of the complex chemical structure, as well as the benefit of fiber, these non-sweet carbohydrates are absorbed more slowly and are an important nutritional contribution to the diabetic diet:

-  Whole grain flours
-  Whole grain breads (>3 grams of  fiber per slice)
-  Brown rice (more fiber than white rice)
-  Whole grain flour tortillas (whole wheat low fat wraps)
-  Corn tortillas
-  Whole grain couscous, nice change from rice
-  Whole wheat pasta (Dreamfields or Barilla Plus)
-  Cereals with whole grains and very little added sugar (< 3 grams of fat, < 6 grams of sugar, > 5 grams of fiber per serving)
-  Whole grain first ingredient
-  High fiber, low sugar cereal bars
-  Oatmeal, preferably 1-minute cooking, not instant (high in sodium)


Legumes are very high in fiber, protein and carbohydrate and low in fat. Dried beans need to be soaked before cooking, and canned need to be rinsed of sodium before use. Blood glucose will rise slowly when consuming legumes.

-  Black beans
-  Garbanzo or chick peas
-  Cananelli, navy, pinto beans
-  Lima beans
-  Lentils
-  Soy beans and edamame

Dairy foods are the best source of calcium and Vitamin D. Select the lowest fat versions to reduce intake of saturated fat:

-  Skim or 1% yogurt
-  Low fat or fat free yogurt without added sugar
-  Nonfat sour cream
-  Low sugar and low fat frozen desserts
-  Low fat cottage cheese, ricotta cheese
-  Low fat cheeses - processed cheese will have more sodium
-  Nonfat half and half


Meat, Meat Substitute and other Protein
The primary contribution of these foods is protein essential for growth and repair of our bodies, and insures a healthy immune system. Protein food slows digestion of meals and has a moderate and delayed effect on blood glucose.  Select lean cuts of meat, such as top sirloin, loin, or less than 10 grams of fat per 3 oz, serving.  Non-animal sources will provide less fat. Cooking methods should not include the skin on the poultry, or be breaded and fried, or added gravy or sauces on all meats. Bake, broil, grill, or steam meats, fish and poultry. Sauté or cook tofu in soups, not fried.

Find turkey sausage and bacon, instead of pork, generally lower in fat. Or these:

-  Tuna, fresh or canned, or bags (high in omega -3 fatty acids)
-  Salmon
-  White fish such as flounder, tilapia, cod
-  Crab, shrimp, scallops
-  Turkey breast or chicken, no skin
-  Ground turkey breast or chicken, white meat only
-   Pork tenderloin
-   Lean ham
-   Venison
-   Veal chop, loin
-   Beef top round, flank steak, London broil
-   Low sodium lean deli meats and hot dogs (Boars Head, Healthy Choice)
-   Eggs ( egg whites as egg substitutes have no fat or cholesterol)
-   Tofu
-   Soy-based vegetable protein products (veggies burgers, etc. - sodium could be high)

Fats and Oils

This group of food is over twice the calories of other foods. The plant-based oils and fats are heart healthy, but use all sparingly when watching calories. Avoid “partially hydrogenated vegetable oils” as an ingredient:

-  Olive oil: High in monounsaturates, use in salad dressings and cooking
-  Canola oil: Heart heat monounsaturates, mild in taste and good for cooking and baking
-  Soft-tub margarines: Select “no trans fats”, and may have added sterols or omega-3 to make more heart healthy


-  Nuts: almonds, peanuts, walnuts, pecans, sunflower seeds, cashews - heart healthy benefits
-  Avocado
-  Mayonnaise
-  Salad dressings
-  Cream cheese (select low fat)
-  Butter, lard and bacon: high in harmful saturated fats

Miscellaneous Choices
-  Tomato sauce: No sugar added, contains cancer-fighting lycopene
-  Vinegar: It  has little or no calories (rice vinegar is sugared), and may have properties to control blood sugar
-  Broth: Low sodium. Chicken, beef or vegetable, use to start soups or in place of water to flavor rice
-  Soy and teriyaki sauce: Low sodium. Adds flavor to dishes without the calories
-  Salsa: A great way to easily add vegetables to a snack (low fat tortilla chips) or use as a condiment for foods
-  Hummus: Healthy high fiber, protein heart healthy snack - use with veggies or whole wheat pita crackers
-  Flaxseed/ground: Adds fiber and is heart healthy fat-anti-inflammatory
-  Mustard, hot sauce, ketchup: good flavor, little calories

-  Baked snacks: Baked potato chips, corn chips, rice cakes instead of fried chips
-  Cinnamon : May help control blood sugar, add to cereal, applesauce, tea and coffee
-  Fresh herbs and spices: Add wonderful flavor without calories, use less salt and fat to make dishes tasty
-  Unsweetened beverages: Check label for calories on flavored waters, tea and power drinks. Could be detrimental on blood glucose if sweetened.
-  Sports drinks: These have calories and added sodium and potassium. Useful if very active, not meant as a meal beverage.


Reviewed by Clara Schneider MS, RD, RN, CDE, LDN - 05/13