Healthy Meals for Diabetics

Estimated time to read 6 minutes

Being recently diagnosed with diabetes or prediabetes is a scary and overwhelming time. You may have so many questions to ask your doctor or loved ones but are confused about where to even start.

One big lifestyle adjustment diabetics usually make is to the types of food and beverages consumed. Go-to meals may not be allowed on a diabetes diet food list and you’re no longer sure what to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (not to mention snacks!).

For those who are diabetic or prediabetic and looking to incorporate healthy meals into your shopping cart, we’ve compiled a few tips and tricks in this blog post!

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is maybe a word you’ve heard of. Perhaps you know people, like friends or loved ones, who have diabetes or are pre diabetic.

Diabetes is a chronic (long-lasting) health condition that affects how your body turns food into energy. Most of the food you eat is broken down into sugar and released into your bloodstream. When your blood sugar goes up, it signals your pancreas to release insulin, and this lets the blood sugar into your body’s cells for use as energy.

If you have diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use the insulin it does make. When there isn’t enough insulin or cells stop responding to insulin, too much blood sugar stays in the bloodstream, and over a period of time, that can cause health problems, such as heart disease, vision loss, and kidney disease.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a known cure for diabetes yet, but losing weight, eating healthy food, and being active can be a big help in keeping the condition under control.

Are there different types of diabetes?

There are three main types of diabetes: type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes (diabetes while pregnant).

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is thought to be caused by an autoimmune reaction (the body attacks itself by mistake) that stops your body from making insulin. About 5-10 percent of people who have diabetes have type 1. The symptoms of type 1 diabetes develop quickly, and it’s often diagnosed in children, teens, and young adults. Type 1 diabetics need to take insulin every day to survive.

Type 2 Diabetes

For people with type 2 diabetes, their body doesn’t use insulin well and can’t keep blood sugar at normal levels. A majority of people who have diabetes have type 2, or about 90-95 percent. Type 2 diabetes develops over the course of several years and is often diagnosed in adults. If you have a family history of type 2 diabetes or know you’re at risk, you may not notice any symptoms, so it’s important to regularly get your blood sugar tested. In contrast to type 1, type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed by promoting a healthy lifestyle, such as losing weight, eating nutritious food, and staying active.

Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes develops in pregnant women who have never had diabetes. If you have gestational diabetes, your baby could be at higher risk for health problems. Gestational diabetes usually goes away after the baby is born but increases risk for type 2 diabetes later in life. The baby is also more likely to develop type 2 diabetes later in life.


In the United States, 96 million adults—more than 1 in 3—have prediabetes. The tricky part is that more than 8 in 10 of those individuals don’t know they have it. With prediabetes, blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough yet to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes. Prediabetes raises your risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. The good news is if you have prediabetes, there are many lifestyle change programs that can help you take healthy steps to reverse the condition (consult with your doctor!).

Prepping your kitchen

When thinking about what foods and beverages to use more of or avoid due to diabetes, it’s important to be proactive in stocking up your kitchen! That way, when it comes to prepping breakfast, lunch, and dinner, you have the ingredients and tools you need to make nutritious, delicious meals.

Here are a few basic ingredients that are great for those with diabetes to have on hand:

  • Canned vegetables (no added salt)
  • Frozen fruit (note: according to WebMD, blackberries, strawberries, tomatoes, or oranges are best)
  • Canned beans (rinse before eating to remove any salt)
  • Canned tuna or salmon (in water)
  • Dried herbs (goes great on vegetables or grilled meat!)
  • Olive oil
  • Cooking spray

We wrote about more of the best pantry staples here–give it a look!

Diabetes diet breakfast

When looking to keep diabetes in check, it’s soooo important to start the day off with a healthy breakfast! Breakfast is important for people with diabetes because it helps you feel full and can keep blood glucose levels more stable. Insulin sensitivity is often higher in the morning than the evening, so an eating schedule that includes breakfast and minimizes late-night eating is often recommended.

Proper Good Perfectly Plain Oatmeal

Did you know that Proper Good Perfectly Plain Oatmeal has NO sugar? This zero prep oatmeal variation is a perfect option for diabetics because you can add your own yummy toppings, so therefore can choose low or no sugar options! 

Perfectly Plain Oatmeal - Eat Proper Good

With chia, flax seeds, and hemp, our oatmeal is both filling and nutritious, keeping you full all morning. Ready in the microwave in just 60 seconds … so you can grab and go!

We could literally talk about oatmeal and breakfast for days! Here are a couple other blog posts those with diabetes may find helpful, in terms of incorporating oatmeal into your diet:

Diabetic-friendly apple muffins

If you have a sweet tooth, but need to cut down on sugary favorites to accommodate diabetes, fruit is your best friend! While some types of fruit are high in a natural sugar called fructose and must be avoided, other fruits are full of vitamins, minerals, and plant compounds.

Apples are a popular fruit for diabetics due to their rich flavor but lower sugar counts (in comparison to high sugar alternatives, like bananas). This recipe incorporates apples alongside cinnamon and nutmeg for a super cozy flavor. And, with just a little meal prep, your breakfasts are set all week long!

Breakfast quesadilla

This TexMex quesadilla is great for mornings when you need a hearty breakfast, but don’t want to compromise on flavor or nutritional value! The canned green chiles provide just the right amount of spice, while whole wheat flour tortillas and turkey bacon help keep you full until lunch. If you’re looking to add even more flavor, we’d suggest chopping up cilantro to include on top, or mixed in with the eggs!

Yogurt breakfast smoothie

A smoothie is a wonderful way to squeeze healthy fruits and vegetables into your busy routine. This breakfast smoothie recipe takes only 5 minutes–perfect for those who are short on time or newer to establishing a breakfast routine. A yogurt modification we’d recommend for diabetics is to swap out the peach or blackberry yogurt in favor of unsweetened Greek yogurt, which contains up to twice the protein and half the carbohydrates of regular yogurt. 

Breakfast Yogurt Smoothie - Eat Proper Good

Mini corn, cheese and basil frittatas

These small but mighty breakfast bites contain 6 grams of protein and are rich in heart-healthy carbs! Corn contains several antioxidants and is ADA-recommended as a top vegetable for diabetics. Basil and cheese bring the comforting, yet refreshing, flavor to these egg bites.

If you’re navigating a diabetes diagnosis, you are not alone! And we hope this blog post has helped ease some of your worries as it relates to your diabetes diet for breakfast.

If you’re looking for more support on managing your diabetes, a support group could be a great place to start, and the Defeat Diabetes Foundation has additional resources available.

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