About Our Meal Plans

Each month, Recipes for Healthy Living brings you a one-day meal plan with suggestions for adjusting carbohydrates and calories.


What guidelines do the meal plans follow?

We use the American Diabetes Association nutrition guidelines when we write each meal plan. The guidelines were developed using the following sources:


What are the meal plans for?

These sample meal plans are meant to serve as a guide for you. Our meal plans should help you see how to put together balanced meals with our recipes and other foods in your own kitchen.

We follow very general diabetes nutrition guidelines to create a one day meal plan each month. You may need more or less calories or carbohydrates than the standard plan suggests. You may also need more or less of other nutrients depending on your health status and other conditions. (For example, if you have high blood pressure, you may need to restrict sodium more than our meal plan suggests.)

Although the American Diabetes Association has general nutrition guidelines, we still encourage you to work with your health care provider, a registered dietitian (RD), or a certified diabetes educator (CDE) to build a plan that is individualized for you and will help to meet your diabetes and weight loss goals.


Our Meal Planning Guidelines:

  • Meal plans are balanced
    • They include breakfast, lunch, dinner, and two snacks.
    • Each one-day plan includes about 8 servings of fruits and vegetables.
    • Fruits and vegetables are included at almost every meal and snack.
  • 1550-1650 calories per day
    • Your calorie level may vary based on your age, gender, activity level and whether or not you need to lose weight.
    • Calories are spaced throughout the day between meals and two snacks.
    • We also include tips each month to add or cut total calories by 200.
  • Moderate-carbohydrate (about 45% of calories come from carbohydrate)
    • Carbohydrate intake is spread throughout the day.
    • Most meals have 45-60 grams of carbohydrate.
    • Most snacks have 10-25 grams of carbohydrate.
    • We also provide tips on how to adjust each meal plan to make it lower in carbohydrates.
  • Limit trans fat as much as possible, <10% of calories from saturated fat, and focus on healthy or "good" fat sources
    • People with diabetes have a higher-than-average risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Due to their connection with heart disease risk, the amount of saturated and trans fats in our meal plans is limited. Trans fat and saturated fats are sometimes referred to as "bad fats."
    • "Good fats" include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and may promote heart health. Meal plans include these over "bad fats" as much as possible.
  • 300 mg of cholesterol per day
    • Your body makes some cholesterol on its own but you also get cholesterol from food. People with diabetes should have 300 mg or less per day.
    • Some foods, like shrimp and eggs, are fairly nutritious foods but are somewhat high in cholesterol. Meal plans may include these foods because they provide other benefits or help to balance the plan.
  • >25 grams of dietary fiber per day
    • You get fiber from plant-based foods like whole grains, fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds and beans.
    • People with diabetes should consume at least the recommended amount of fiber for the general population: about 25 grams per day for women and 38 grams per day for men. Many Americans only get about half of what is recommended.
  • 2300 mg of sodium or less per day
    • Watching sodium is important for blood pressure control.
    • The American Diabetes Association recommends 2300 mg of sodium or less per day.
    • If you have diabetes and hypertension, you should work with your health care team to see if further reduction of sodium intake is necessary.
    • The current food supply is packed with hidden sources of sodium, and most Americans are consuming closer to 3400 mg of sodium per day. You can take some simple steps to reducing the sodium in your diet by learning what foods are major sources of sodium, making smart food choices, and controlling portion sizes.


Quick and Easy Healthy Meals

This month our featured recipes from Two-Step Diabetes Cookbook by Nancy S. Hughes will guide you in making healthy recipes in just two steps!

Read More

See More Meal Plans

See all of the meal plans that we have published to date.


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I don't do any physical activity other than what I need to do for my usual activities, such as going to work or school, grocery shopping, or doing chores around the house.

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If you want to lose weight, you may need fewer calories. You should talk with your health care team for more personalized recommendations, but this calculator can help to get you started.

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*Estimates are rounded to the nearest 200 calories. An individual's calorie needs may be higher or lower than these average estimates. Developed from the 2010 US Dietary Guidelines for Americans.