Create a Healthy Meal Plan

Create a Healthy Meal Plan

Having diabetes does not mean you have to cut out all the foods you love. You can still enjoy food while keeping your diabetes under control. You just need to find ways to lower the fat and sugar content in the dishes you love to cook, and also learn to eat smaller portions. Here are some ways you can make the dishes you love fit into your healthy lifestyle.


Use a non-sugar or plant-based sweetener, like stevia, to lower the calorie and carbohydrate content of any recipe. Sugar substitutes or sugar/sweetener mixes can replace sugar cup for cup. Other substitutes might be sweeter than sugar and should be used in smaller amounts. Read the label on the package to learn how much sweetener to use in place of sugar.


If you want to limit your sodium intake, cut the amount of salt in your recipe in half. You can also skip the salt altogether and use a salt-free seasoning, herbs, lemon juice or veggies such as onions, peppers or garlic to flavor your foods. If you are using a sauce, use a low-salt canned alternative. Better yet, make the sauce yourself so you can control the amount of salt you use.


You can lower the amount of fat in your foods by using part-skim and low-fat products such as low-fat milk or cheese. If you have a dish that calls for whole milk, use skim or low-fat milk instead. Here are other ways to cut fat content in foods:

    • • Use smaller portions of full-fat preparations.
    • • Bake, grill, or broil meats, or pan-fry foods using fat-free cooking spray.
    • • Steam veggies and flavor them with herbs and spices instead of butter.
    • • Replace eggs in recipes with egg whites only (the fat in eggs comes from the yolk).
    • • Use unsweetened applesauce in place of butter or oil in recipes for baked goods like cakes and muffins.


Fiber is not digested by the body. It slows the movement through your digestive tract to help you absorb more nutrients from the foods you eat. Fiber also helps keep blood glucose levels stable. By keeping you feeling full longer, fiber helps you eat smaller portions and keep your body weight in check. Fiber is found in many foods, including:

    • • fresh fruits and veggies
    • • whole-grain foods such as oatmeal, popcorn, and whole-grain breads and cereals
    • • some nuts and seeds
    • • dry beans

Here are a few ways to add more fiber to your dishes:

    • • Use brown rice or whole-grain pasta instead of refined white rice or pasta products.
    • • Add uncooked quick oats, wheat germ, bran or shredded veggies to your meatloaf or meatball dishes.
    • • Use veggies to add volume and flavor to sauces.
    • • Add diced fruit to oatmeal, cereal, yogurt or cottage cheese.

Be sure to increase your fiber intake in small steps to give your body time to get used to the extra bulk. Also, drink plenty of fluids when you are eating fiber. Stay active to help move things along down the digestive tract!


During meal and snack time, use measuring cups and spoons to help control the portions you eat. After a while, you will get used to the proper portion sizes and be able to “eyeball it,” or measure without using measuring tools. It may also help to use a smaller plate. A small plate that is crowded with food looks more satisfying than a larger plate with little food on it. By making yourself feel less deprived, you will find it easier to stick to your healthy eating plan. Some portion size basics are:

    • 1 slice of bread
    • ½ cup rice or pasta
    • ½ cup diced fruit
    • ½ cup starchy vegetable, like potatoes or corn
    • 1 cup salad greens or non-starchy vegetable like green beans, broccoli, or spinach
    • 1 ounce sliced or cubed cheese, or ¼ cup shredded cheese
    • 1 cup milk or yogurt


Moving more can help your body burn more calories, which means you can eat a little bit more of the foods you love while keeping your weight on target. Staying active isn’t hard. Try to:

    • • Walk more throughout the day and take the stairs whenever you have the chance.
    • • Park your car further away from where you need to go.
    • • Walk the dog.
    • • Do work around your yard or house.
    • • Walk in place or around the room while watching TV.
    • • Sign up for a dance class.
    • • Ride a bike.
    • • Join a swim class.

It is best to make exercise fun so that you will be more likely to stick with it.

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Constance Brown-Riggs, MSEd, RD, CDE, CDN—an award-winning RD, certified diabetes educator, and past national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, is the author of The African American Guide to Living Well With Diabetes, which received the Favorably Reviewed designation from the American Association of Diabetes Educators, and Eating Soulfully and Healthfully with Diabetes.

Dr. Lori Shemek, PhD, CNC, CLC, the best-selling author of “Fire-Up Your Fat Burn! and leading health and weight loss expert, is also known as “The Inflammation Terminator.” She has made it her mission to educate the public on the toxic effects of certain foods and lifestyle choices and how they create inflammation in the body. She is a leading authority on inflammation and its role in weight loss, preventing disease and optimizing health.

Rebecca Bitzer – MS, RD/LD, CEDRD is an award-winning Registered Dietitian, writer, speaker, blogger, and REBEL Dietitian business owner. Rebecca and her team of six Registered Dietitians have counseled thousands of clients struggling with diabetes for over twenty-five years. They work closely with each other along with internists, endocrinologists, therapists, and families.

Maureen Sullivan – RN, CDE has worked for many years as a Registered Nurse, most of them in emergency and trauma services. She is a Certified Emergency Nurse, Certified Diabetes Educator, and the former manager of a hospital stroke program. Maureen’s wealth of knowledge, passion for nursing and education, and ability to engage people makes her an excellent teacher and a captivating lecturer. Recently, Maureen has been concentrating on writing, speaking and teaching, as well as working on her award-winning weekly podcast, “The Health and Humor Show.”

Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDN is a nutrition communications specialist, registered dietitian in private practice, social media consultant, speaker, spokesperson and corporate consultant. She is currently the owner of Nutrition Starring YOU, LLC and Lauren strongly believes that we should “Think Healthy, not Skinny”, and “EveryBODY is unique, your diet should be too”. Lauren was co-host of the Family Food Experts Kitchen radio show, available for listening on iHeart Radio and iTunes. Also known as one of the “NutritionBabes”, Lauren co-founded, a popular Health and Wellness website in 2009. was voted one of Healthline’s Top 100 Health Blogs in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

Mark Heyman, PhD, CDE is a clinical health psychologist and the director of the Center for Diabetes and Mental Health (CDMH). In addition to treating patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, Dr. Heyman provides training for health care providers on how to identify and address the emotional and behavioral aspects of diabetes in their patients. He also works with pharmaceutical and medical device companies to help them understand these issues and incorporate this information into their sales, marketing, and patient education materials. He is particularly interested in empirically supported behavioral interventions that promote behavior change and improve physical and mental health in people with diabetes.

Katie Ferraro, MPH, RD, CDE is a nationally-recognized registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator and author with an expertise in nutrition communications and curriculum development. She is the co-author of “Diet Therapy in Advanced Practice Nursing” (McGraw Hill, 2014) and an Assistant Clinical Professor of Nutrition at the University of California San Francisco and University of San Diego’s graduate schools of nursing.

Dr. Beverly S. Adler, PhD, CDE (aka “Dr. Bev”) is a clinical psychologist and certified diabetes educator, author and speaker. She specializes treating the emotional issues of people with diabetes. In her private practice, she provides individual, family and/or group therapy utilizing a cognitive behavior therapy orientation, combined with a spiritual approach. Her goal is to empower her patients to manage their diabetes.

Dr. Bev is the author of two self-help diabetes books. She has written numerous articles which are published in print and online – always focused on diabetes from the emotional perspective. She also speaks to audiences of people living with diabetes, as well as, to audiences of healthcare professionals and diabetes educators. Dr. Bev, herself, has been living successfully with type 1 diabetes for 40+ years.

In August 2016, Dr. Bev was honored to receive the “CDE Entrepreneur of the Year” Award from her Metropolitan NY Association of Diabetes Educators.

Jill Weisenberger, MS, RDN, CDE, FAND is an internationally recognized nutrition and diabetes expert with more than two decades experience. Through writing, speaking and one-on-one coaching, Jill empowers people to grab control of their health. She has worked as both a nutrition counselor and a diabetes educator in the hospital and research settings, and now in private practice in Newport News, VA. Jill is known for her practical approach and caring attitude. Her no-nonsense strategies to eating well include foods that both taste good and are good for you.

Marlene Koch (pronounced ‘cook’) is a nationally recognized nutritionist, popular TV personality and New York Times bestselling author. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from UCLA with a Bachelor’s degree in Nutritional Science. She is a registered dietitian and one of a select group of dietitians to hold an advanced certificate in Child and Adolescent Weight Management from the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics.

Marlene has taught professional chefs from the American Culinary Federation the principles of healthy cooking and eating. She has been adjunct Nutrition professor and cooking instructor for Columbus State College and the Columbus State Culinary Academy, and she is a nationally recognized expert in weight loss, diabetes, child and adolescent nutrition, and sugar substitutes.

Marlene has sold over one million cookbooks, and is a regular guest on QVC.

Barbara Ruhs – MS, RDN is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and owner of Neighborhood Nutrition LLC, a consulting firm focused on providing solutions to help food companies and supermarkets improve consumer health & wellness. She’s a former supermarket dietitian and has run a successful business for 17 years. A leader in the field of nutrition, her mission is to help people by impacting the way food is produced, marketed and sold. She’s a strong advocate for supermarket dietitians and believes the retail food industry has the greatest potential to impact public health.

Cheryl Orlansky has over 25 years of experience in health promotion and chronic disease prevention and management. Her first career as a registered dental hygienist led her towards a path of wellness and nutrition! Her expertise is in diabetes, weight management and cardiovascular disease for individuals and groups. She works in a large private practice including endocrinology, internal medicine, rheumatology, neurology and sleep medicine. She is an award winning dietitian with current leadership positions in state and local dietetics organizations.

She has been interviewed and quoted in media outlets for WebMD, Atlanta Sports and Fitness, Georgia Public Broadcasting, and the Atlanta Journal and Constitution. She has partnered with V-103 Radio to lead supermarket tours as part of a community outreach during National Nutrition Month.

Cheryl helps her clients reach balance through lifestyle choices: cooking and eating, activity and purpose in life.

Jackie Newgent, RDN, CDN, is a registered dietitian nutritionist and classically-trained chef. With a passion for helping people (including her father) with diabetes, she’s author of The With or Without Meat Cookbook: The Flexible Approach to Flavorful Diabetes Cooking and the award-winning The All‐Natural Diabetes Cookbook, both published by the American Diabetes Association. Jackie is also author of 1,000 Low-Calorie Recipes and Big Green Cookbook. Her next book, The All-Natural Diabetes Cookbook—2nd Edition, was published in 2015.

Nutritionist Rania Batayneh, MPH is the author of the best-selling book, The One One One Diet. She holds a master’s degree in public health nutrition from the University of Michigan School of Public Health and is also a Wellcoaches Certified Health and Wellness Coach endorsed by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).

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