Healthy Eating

Eating well to reach or stay at a healthy weight is one of the most important things you can do to lower your risk for type 2 diabetes.

It can seem hard to make healthy food choices, particularly if you are on a budget or short on time. But there are some steps you can take to help you and your family eat healthier. Choose a few of the suggestions below to start today. Then come back another day and try a few more.

Build a Healthier Plate

  • Fill half your plate with non-starchy veggies such as carrots, broccoli, green beans, kale, cauliflower and others.
  • Choose lean meats (such as skinless chicken, turkey and lean cuts of pork or beef such as sirloin or round roast) and lower fat dairy products (like low-fat or skim milk and fat free or low-fat yogurt).
  • Choose whole grains such as brown rice, barley, farro and quinoa over refined grains that are processed.
  • Choose healthy fats in small amounts. For cooking, use oils such as olive, canola, sunflower or peanut. For salads, some healthy additions are nuts, seeds, avocado and vinaigrettes.

The interactive Create Your Plate tool shows you how easy it is to build a healthy plate.

Shop Smart

  • Set aside some time to plan your weekly meals. You might want to start with just a few days. It may seem like a hassle at first, but having a plan (and writing your grocery list with it in mind) can save you time, stress and a lot of extra trips to the store.
  • Shop only from your grocery list.
  • Don’t shop when you are hungry and are more likely to be tempted by a less healthy food.
  • Shop the perimeter of the store where you will find fresh produce, dairy, eggs, fresh meats, poultry and fish. Spend the least amount of time in the aisles where sweets and packaged foods are found.
  • Choosing fresh fruits and vegetables in season can be more affordable, but remember that frozen fruits and vegetables are just as healthy. When choosing canned produce, pick vegetables with no added salt and fruit in its own juice.
  • Stock your pantry with the healthy basics including brown rice, whole grain pasta and beans.

Eat Smart

  • To cut down on the sodium in canned vegetables, drain and rinse them before heating. You can do the same to cut down on added sugar in canned fruits or, better yet, buy them packed in juice instead of syrup.
  • Try starting meals with a salad or raw vegetables and a light yogurt-based dip. This helps you fill up on more good-for-you veggies before you get to the higher fat and higher calorie courses.
  • Make healthy snack foods the quick choice. Cut up carrots, broccoli, cauliflower and other vegetables ahead of time and keep them in the fridge for easy access when you want to crunch.
  • In restaurants, ask if meats can be grilled rather than fried, and request sauces and dressings on the side. Remember to choose fruit, salad or other vegetables as side items rather than French fries. Order a salad or soup to start and then share an entrée. Save money—and lots of calories—by skipping dessert.

What else can you do to lower your risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease? Stay active, don't smoke and lose weight, if needed.

  • Last Reviewed: March 16, 2017
  • Last Edited: March 21, 2017

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