Meal planning can seem daunting with Type 2 diabetes, but some simple guidelines help make it easier. Type 2 diabetes is a serious medical condition, so always follow your physician's or registered dietitian's dietary recommendations and do not change your current diet without professional guidance.
Do Eat Non-Starchy Vegetables
According to the American Diabetes Association, Type 2 diabetics should eat a minimum of three to five servings of non-starchy vegetables each day. Some common non-starchy vegetables include artichokes, asparagus, baby corn, green beans, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots, cauliflower, celery, collard greens, okra, onions, peppers, radishes, lettuce, squash and tomatoes. The more you eat of non-starchy vegetables, the better because of their fiber, vitamin, mineral and low carbohydrate content. Vegetables such as corn, potatoes and peas are considered starchy vegetables, so don't eat them as often.
Do Eat Protein
Protein can be found in meat, legumes, seafood, poultry, eggs and meat substitutes like tofu. The American Diabetic Association suggests choosing protein sources that have less saturated fat and calories. Always remember that protein in the form of beans or legumes may contain carbohydrates, so read the nutrition label to be sure. Meat does not contain carbohydrates and will not raise your blood sugar levels.
Don't Eat Saturated and Trans Fats
Although fat does not affect blood sugar, it is still important for diabetics to monitor saturated and trans fat intake because of their increased risk for heart disease and stroke. Eating a diet low in saturated and trans fat can help lower cholesterol, which contributes to heart disease and stroke risk. Less than 7 percent of calories in a diabetic's diet should come from saturated fat. Diabetics should consume no more than 140 calories from fat each day if they are following a 2,000-calorie diet. Diabetics should also eat as little trans fat as possible. Foods such as red meat, cheese, butter, margarine and shortening contain trans and saturated fats.
Watch Out for Hidden Carbohydrates
The American Diabetes Association recommends limiting sweet, sugary desserts to rare or special occasions. Just one can of regular cola contains the same amount of carbohydrates as 10 teaspoons of sugar. Although most diabetics know to stay away from sugary foods or drinks like cake and cola, some foods and drinks considered healthy contain a surprising number of carbohydrates. Dried cranberries contain 33 grams of carbohydrates in one serving, or one-third cup. There are 15 grams of carbohydrates in 8 ounces of nonfat, 1 percent, 2 percent and whole milk. Even when eating food generally considered "healthy," read the nutrition label to determine the true nutritional quality of the food and how many carbohydrates are hiding within. Diabetics can drink milk and dried fruit, but they need to do so in moderation.