We all know that nobody likes to keep a strict diet. So what we want to do is take the diet out of diabetes. We want to give you some tips on how to make healthy changes to the things you eat without forcing you to cut out all the foods you love.

#1 Make small changes. Don’t change everything you eat in one day. That doesn’t work! Make small, healthy changes one at a time. Try and do each point we talk about, but do them one or a few at a time.

For example, brown rice is better for you than white rice. So start by mixing half white rice with half brown rice. Slowly increase the amount of wheat rice until you can finally completely cut out the white rice.  

If you drink 3 cans of soda a day or 6 tortillas, try cutting it down to 1 can of soda a day or 3 tortillas (corn tortillas are better than flour or hard-shell tortillas).

#2 Keep a food diary. People who keep a food diary lose twice as much weight as people who don’t. Seeing everything you eat on paper helps you figure out problem areas—such as your afternoon snack or your morning latte—where you’re getting more calories than you realized. It also makes you realize what, why, and how much you’re eating, which helps you cut back on mindless snacking.

#3 Eat at regularly set times. Your body can control your blood sugar levels and your weight better when you eat at around the same times every day.

Start your day with a good breakfast. It will give you energy and steady blood sugar levels.

Eat regular small meals—up to 6 per day. Eating regularly will help you keep your portions in check.

Try to eat the same amount for each meal and about the same amount every day, rather than overeating one day or at one meal, and then skimping the next.

#4 Cook at home. Life can get very busy and it is so easy to pick up something on the road, but try not to. Restaurants and fast food places add a lot of unhealthy ingredients to their meals. When cooking at home, you can control how much butter or sugar goes into your food.

If you eat out 6 days a week, try cutting down to 3. We have given you a lot of delicious recipes to try out. You can also create something yourself using some of the tips we give you.

Sometimes buying healthy foods can be expensive. We actually went out and found that Sprouts and the 99 cent store have reasonable prices for food.

#5 Be careful with what you drink. Food often takes center stage when it comes to diabetes. But don’t forget that the what you drink can also have an effect on your weight and blood glucose!

We recommend choosing zero-calorie or very low-calorie drinks. This includes:

  • Water
  • Unsweetened teas
  • Coffee (no creamer)
  • Other low-calorie drinks and drink mixes

Try sparkling water with a twist of lemon or lime instead. Cut down on creamers and sweeteners you add to tea and coffee

Avoid sugary drinks like regular soda, fruit punch, fruit drinks, energy drinks, sweet tea, and other sugary drinks. Sometimes fruit drinks are worse than sodas. They tend to add a lot of sugar to the juice to make it taste better. Only choose fruit juices that are 100% juice with no sugar added. Low-sodium vegetable juices  are a much better choice.

Juice and smoothie stores add a lot of extra sugar into their drinks. Although it may look like a healthy option, you may be shooting yourself in the foot. Try making smoothies at home if you need something on-the-go. Remember, it’s always better to eat your calories instead of drinking them.

Low-fat 1% or skim milk is a good options. It has more calories and carbohydrates than the other recommended choices, but it also has important vitamins and minerals. Just remember to control portion size when you drink it, because the calories and carbohydrates can add up when you have too much.

Be smart about sweets…

  • If you have diabetes, you can still enjoy a small serving of your favorite dessert now and then. The key is moderation.
  • Reduce your cravings for sweets by slowly reduce the sugar in your diet a little at a time to give your taste buds time to adjust.
  • Find healthy ways to satisfy your sweet tooth. Instead of ice cream, blend up frozen bananas for a creamy, frozen treat. Or enjoy a small chunk of dark chocolate, rather than a milk chocolate bar.
  • Start with half of the dessert you normally eat, and replace the other half with fruit.
  • Hold the bread (or rice or pasta) if you want dessert. Eating sweets at a meal adds extra carbohydrates so cut back on the other carb-heavy foods at the same meal.
  • Eat sweets with a meal, rather than as a stand-alone snack. When eaten on their own, sweets cause your blood sugar to spike. But if you eat them along with other healthy foods as part of your meal, your blood sugar won’t rise as rapidly.
  • When you eat dessert, truly savor each bite. How many times have you mindlessly eaten your way through a bag of cookies or a huge piece of cake? Can you really say that you enjoyed each bite? Make your indulgence count by eating slowly and paying attention to the flavors and textures. You’ll enjoy it more, plus you’re less likely to overeat.

Other Tips:

  • Be careful about alcohol. It’s easy to underestimate the calories and carbs in alcoholic drinks, including beer and wine. And cocktails mixed with soda and juice can be loaded with sugar. Choose calorie-free mixers, drink only with food, and monitor your blood glucose as alcohol can interfere with diabetes medication and insulin.
  • Sweeten foods yourself. Buy unsweetened iced tea, plain yogurt, or unflavored oatmeal, for example, and add sweetener (or fruit) yourself. You’ll likely add far less sugar than the manufacturer.
  • Avoid processed or packaged foods like canned soups, frozen dinners, or low-fat meals that often contain hidden sugar. Prepare more meals at home.
  • Reduce the amount of sugar in recipes by ¼ to ⅓. You can boost sweetness with mint, cinnamon, nutmeg, or vanilla extract instead of sugar.
  • Cut your fat-gram count to decrease daily calories. Think dressing on salad, butter on toast, sour cream on a baked potato — it adds extra calories without bumping up the number of bites.
  • Choose lean meats.  look for cuts that have the word “round” or “loin” in their name, such as top round or pork loin. Even with these better-for-you picks, trim all visible fat.  
  • Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water. People often mistake thirst for hunger, which can lead to overeating and weight gain.