A Healthy Diabetic Diet - Making the right choices

Making healthy eating choices when your diet is already restricted can be an uphill battle. So today on World Diabetic Day, we have turned to Dr Karin M Hehenberger, author of the Everything you Need to Know about Diabetes Cookbook, for some tips on how you can make healthy choices at meal times as someone who lives with diabetes…

 The Everything you need to know about diabetes cookbook


  • Coffee or tea (with no addition of milk or sugar) speed up your metabolism and may lower the blood sugar and decrease your weight. There is no need to add insulin.
  • Yogurt or milk with cereal is high in carbs, especially if you choose a cereal that includes sugar.
  • Oatmeal is also high in carbs, but it contains fiber, which delays the sugar peak somewhat and actually helps you sustain energy for a period of time.
  • Toast with butter is VERY high in fast-acting carbs, which makes it unsuitable for someone with brittle diabetes (a special kind of diabetes that is hard to regulate). The combination of carbs and the surface of the toasted bread for some reason make the sugar spike even more than if eating regular bread that is not toasted.
  • Eggs, avocados, cheese, ham, and turkey are all good breakfast items for people with diabetes since they contain protein and fat but have a very low carb content.
  • Fruits are high in simple carbohydrates, but are a better option than processed sugars. Some fruits are better than others, for example, berries are recommended for people with diabetes.


  • Salads made with leafy greens, green veggies, and some lean protein, such as tuna, chicken, or turkey, are a great alternatives to sandwiches, the lunch option most often served in corporate settings.
  • I avoid a lunch based on bread, but it is okay occasionally to eat a sandwich made with whole wheat bread and filled with some lean protein.
  • Equally, one slice of multigrain toast or even a side order of brown rice with your lunch will provide complex carbs for sustained energy.


  • Broiled/grilled or sautéed fish with veggies is a great low-carb dish for people with diabetes or anyone who wants to lose weight.
  • Use a spiralizer or vegetable peeler to create noodles or ribbons from zucchini (courgettes) or other non-starchy vegetables to use in place of wheat pasta.
  • Try to eat dinner earlier rather than later; eight o’clock should be your cut-off time. In fact, late dinners are bad for everyone.
  • It is never good to eat a heavy carb meal at the end of the day if you want to lose weight. Have fewer carbs for dinner than you did for breakfast and lunch, since you are on your way to ending the day and do not want carbs to disturb your sleep (because of volatile blood sugar) or make you gain weight if you don’t exercise after dinner.
  • At the same time, however, it is also actually quite important for a diabetic to eat some carbs before going to bed, since you want to avoid “going low” in your sleep. I would test my blood sugar prior to going to sleep, and if it was not above a certain number, I would eat a piece of fruit, a few crackers, or even a cookie! This is not recommended for people with diabetes who are overweight and not on insulin (and therefore not at risk of going low overnight).

Snacks and beverages

  • Choose beverages like water, seltzer (soda water), and unsweetened tea and coffee instead of sweet drinks like sodas (carbonated drinks), juices, and sports and energy drinks.
  • A glass or two of red wine is not forbidden; just keep in mind that you should never drink on an empty stomach because of the risk of hypoglycemia when the liver is occupied with breaking down the alcohol and not releasing glucose.
  • Dextrose tablets are the best portable snacks—always make sure to carry some with you.
  • Other great ideas for healthy snacks include apple slices with peanut butter, veggies and hummus, Greek yogurt with granola, or a sliced banana with almond butter.


You can also find some diabetic friendly recipes on our blog:

Chinese Tilapia Hot Pot

Vegetarian Eggs Benedict

You can find more advice, tips and recipes in our book, The Everything You Need to Know About Diabetes Cookbook by Dr Karin M Hehenberger. 

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