Tips For Healthy Grocery List For Diabetics



Updated on 5/18/2024
Martin AlvarezBy Martin Alvarez
Nutritionist/Dietitian Professional Guide
Learn More about Martin Alvarez


Having diabetes means the body cannot properly digest food to use it as a source of energy as it normally would. According to the estimations provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Trusted Source, as of the year 2017, more than 30 million people in the United States have diabetes. Diabetes type 2 affects an overwhelming majority of those individuals.

Diabetes can lead to various health issues if it is not well treated. The following are examples of common health complications:

  • Kidney disease, the end result of which may be kidney failure.
  • Diseases of the nerves and vessels can ultimately result in limb amputation.
  • Eye diseases, the most severe of which can result in total blindness.

According to the American Association of Diabetes Educators, the good news is that reducing body fat and increasing physical activity have significantly impacted the prevention, treatment, and even reversal of type 2 diabetes in some patients (AADE).

Cutting back on carbohydrates is only one component of a comprehensive approach to dietary management for diabetics. But you shouldn't let that put you off in any way. Sticking to a diabetes-friendly diet will be a breeze if you make it a habit to plan your meals ahead of time.

Ensure You Have Your Meals Planned Out In Advance

meal plan

meal plan

It may take you a few extra minutes in the near term, but you will be better off in the long run since you planned your meals ahead of time. You will be much closer to preparing a nutritious meal if you have previously selected what you will make for dinner each night and have already stocked your refrigerator with the necessary ingredients.

Planning your meals ahead of time on a regular basis helps protect your body from a variety of health problems. It can also help you save money on your pocketbook because you won't be ordering takeout as often or making many impulsive purchases at the grocery store.

Do You Not Know Where To Begin?

According to Toby Smithson, MSNW, RDN, LDN, CDE, Diabetes Meal Planning and Nutrition for Dummies co-author and a former spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, all it takes to get on the right path is a commitment of just one day. Toby Smithson is also the co-author of Diabetes Meal Planning and Nutrition for Dummies.



  • Find a day of the week when you are free to devote a couple of hours to the task of meal planning. It could be a day off during the weekend or another day off during the week. If you have children, try to schedule their numerous activities on the same day if possible so that you don't have to drive them all over town.
  • Create a menu for the week as the first step in getting started. Look for recipe inspiration on Pinterest or some of your favorite culinary blogs. Create a shopping list as you move through the store. Afterward, head to the supermarket, carrying your list as a reference point.
  • Consider utilizing a website dedicated to meal planning, such as Plan to Eat, in order to cut this procedure down even further. Recipes from any website, blog, cookbook, or meal plan can be easily saved and organized in a streamlined fashion by using sites and apps similar to this one. In addition, Plan to Eat compiles a shopping list for you to use automatically.
  • Following this practice for a few weeks will allow you to compile a wonderful collection of dishes that you find satisfying to prepare. Your plan will become simpler to make due to the decreased amount of time you will need to look up recipes. And, of course, if you want to avoid becoming bored, it's a smart idea to keep adding fresh recipes.
  • Give yourself a break if you find it impossible to cook every day. When you can, give cooking in bulk a shot. You can save money by preparing one meal in a larger quantity and then eating the leftovers for lunch or dinner on another day. You might also consider looking for dishes you've frozen already. This enables you to freeze any leftover food and start planning meals in 2 weeks.

A Printable Version Of The Shopping List



Make use of these dos and don'ts while you set your meal plans for the week to locate the foods that are not just delicious but also appropriate for diabetics like yourself.

Fruits And Vegetables

Now is your time to completely lose your mind! The nutrients and health advantages provided by each fruit and vegetable are unique to that particular food.

Make an effort to select fruits and vegetables that come in various hues. Incorporate them into each meal and snack you eat. Vegetables that do not contain starch have the fewest number of calories and the least amount of carbs. The following are some excellent vegetables that are not starchy:

  • broccoli
  • cauliflower
  • Brussels sprouts
  • green beans
  • eggplant
  • asparagus
  • celery
  • salad greens, such as arugula, kale, or romaine lettuce
  • carrots
  • zucchini
Grocery list

Grocery list

You will need to account for the carbohydrates in your fruits and vegetables that are starchy in the same way that you would for any other carbohydrate-containing food group. This does not imply that you should avoid them in any way. Make sure that the amount you consume is consistent with the rest of your meal plan.

People who have diabetes should limit themselves to one serving of fruit per meal, according to the recommendations of Shelley Wishnick, a dietitian and diabetes clinical manager at the medical equipment company Medtronic. This is because even naturally occurring sugars can cause an increase in blood sugar levels. Grab half of a banana, a piece of fruit about the size of your fist, or a half cup of the chopped-up fruit of your choice.

When going grocery shopping, you can save money by selecting fruits and vegetables that are currently available during their respective seasons. When it comes to trying new fruits and vegetables, one of the best ways to do so is to shop for things that are currently in season.

Meat And Marine Products



Choose fish rich in healthy fats to protect your heart and brain. Because omega-3 fatty acids contribute to maintaining a healthy heart, consuming seafood like salmon and sardines, which both contain omega-3 fatty acids, is an excellent choice. Every week, you should make an effort to schedule at least two servings of fish from a trusted source.

When it comes to the other types of meat, opt for leaner cuts. The breast of chicken or turkey is a delicious option. Aim for portion sizes of three ounces each. You should strive to incorporate three portions of lean meat into your weekly food plan.

Jill Weisenberger, MS, RD, and author of The Overworked Person's Guide to Better Nutrition, recommends avoiding bacon and some sausages. These foods tend to be low in protein and high in sodium and fat, and they don't offer much in the way of other nutrients, either.

You might want to consider cutting back on your consumption of red meat. Meat has been connected to colon cancer, a condition people with diabetes may have an elevated risk of getting.




The following are examples of foods that belong to the legume family:

  • beans
  • peanuts
  • peas
  • lentils

Aim to consume at least one to two servings of a half cup daily. Even though these meals are high in carbohydrates, they are also among the best sources of fiber that you can consume. In addition to this, they are a fantastic source of plant protein.

Because of this, they are a superior option for carbohydrate consumption compared to other starches such as rice, white pasta, and bread. Choose your legume preferences. Because of the similarity in their nutrient profiles, you can choose any type of legume to include in your diet that you want.

Products Made From Milk And Other Milk Substitutes

 Greek yogurt

Greek yogurt

You should aim for one to three portions of low-fat foods per day. There is evidence from several studies that yogurt is beneficial for diabetics and may even assist in preventing the disease in individuals at risk. Greek yogurt has more protein and fewer carbohydrates than regular yogurt, making it a potentially preferable alternative to other types of yogurt.

Another delicious and nutritious alternative that is low in carbs and high in protein is cottage cheese.

Just be aware that some yogurts may include additional sugars, and they can conceal themselves in seasonings and add-ins like granola and cookie pieces, for example. Foods and beverages best serve people with diabetes with a reduced total number of calories, less added sugar, and less saturated fat.

Protein is obtained from unsweetened soy, flax, almond, hemp milk, and yogurt, prepared from these kinds of milk while simultaneously reducing the number of carbohydrates consumed. Find out more about milk alternatives right here.

Frozen Foods

frozen fruits

frozen fruits

You can also stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables at this location. Always read the nutrition label before purchasing a product to ensure that it does not include excessive additives, sugar, or sodium. Frozen produce has a longer shelf life than fresh produce does and can help you save a lot of time when you're in a rush to get supper on the table. Because of this, it's always a good idea to keep some of this in the store.

You don't have to completely abstain from dessert when you crave something sugary. Diets that are too restrictive don't work well over the long run and typically cause more problems than they solve.

Instead, you should put more thought into the foods that you eat. Stick to desserts that require one serving, and don't load your freezer with more than one kind at a time. This helps you avoid giving in to an excessive amount of temptation.

Frozen fish and shrimp are two more excellent options to consider. According to Weisenberger, they may be prepared quickly and last longer than their fresh counterparts. She likes using them since they make it easier for her to put together a nutritious lunch on a hectic day.

Cereals For Breakfast And Several Snacks



You must restrict the number of processed foods you eat whenever possible. However, this is not always possible. Certain keywords can assist you in locating products that are better for you, whether you're looking for healthier morning cereal, crackers, or snack bars. In general, you should look for the following words on the packaging:

  • "Whole grains."
  • The term "whole wheat."
  • "Grains that have germinated"
  • the term "high fiber."

Wishnick suggests opting for foods that contain no more than eight grams of sugar per serving and at least three grams of dietary fiber.

Consider reaching for some nuts instead of purchasing a large number of snack foods that have been heavily processed. In addition to the positive effects of nuts on heart health, certain nuts, like almonds, may also help boost insulin sensitivity. People who suffer from diabetes will benefit from this development.




Consuming an excessive amount of carbohydrates might induce a rise in blood sugar. You'll want to exercise a high degree of caution with each option. Choose products made with whole grains wherever possible, such as bread and pasta, to improve your overall health. Examine the labels to determine the total amount of carbohydrates and the serving size. It is simple to consume too many of these meals.

Whole grains should make up at least half of your daily grain intake, and you should aim for roughly two to three servings each day. When determining the appropriate portion size, keep in mind that one serving consists of half a cup of cooked oats, a slice of bread, or another type of grain.

When selecting whole grains, take into consideration the following meals, which require more time to digest and can help you resist the urge to snack:

  • corn
  • oats
  • buckwheat
  • Quinoa

It's possible that baked goods and other products made from flour, even those made with whole-wheat flour, will trigger a jump in your blood sugar level. If this describes you, you should look for whole grains that have been lightly processed, have naturally greater fiber content, and are still in their natural, unprocessed state. Blood sugar spikes are mitigated by consuming these whole grains in their unprocessed form alongside some protein or healthy fat.

Canned Foods



When it's not possible to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables, another option to consider is buying them canned. You still need to be wary of additional sugar and sodium, just as you do with frozen foods. Choose canned fruits preserved in juice rather than syrup, and look for veggies low in salt.

Beans in a can are an excellent source of protein and fiber, both of which contribute to a feeling of fullness that lasts for a longer period of time.

Diet As Medication



A diabetic diet is the most effective form of diabetes treatment and is derived from natural sources. Because the foods you eat can immediately impact your blood sugar levels, it is essential to select foods that will have a constructive impact on your blood sugar levels, as advised by Wishnick.

A common cause of high blood sugar is the consumption of refined carbohydrates, highly processed meals, high in sugar, or both. Maintain a healthy diet by paying attention to the following:

  • A plentiful supply of fruits and veggies.
  • Whole grains.
  • Foods that are high in fiber.
  • Proteins are derived from lean animals and plants.
  • Wholesome lipids.

A grocery list for diabetes helps you keep a steady sugar level in your blood. It is possible that it will enhance your energy levels and assist you in maintaining or even losing weight.