Food Swaps For People with Diabetes

by Yumhee Park Content Producer

If you or a loved one has diabetes, you know that living with a restrictive diet can sometimes bring cravings you can’t seem to control. And that can lead to binge eating. Healthcentral found some healthy alternatives for the next time the cravings hit.

Summer berries on wooden surface.

Instead of sweets try fruit

Sweet tooth struggle is real. It’s tempting to grab a chocolate bar when you need a pick-me-up, but that’s not doing the body any good. Instead, try some fruit, such as berries and peaches, with some unsweetened almond milk. That’s a much better alternative that will satisfy your craving and also give you some energy. If you want to splurge on chocolate occasionally, try and small serving of dark chocolate–it’s heart healthy!

Chicken wings and legs in baking tray.

Instead of frying, try baking

While comfort food may provide warmth to the soul, the long-term effects on your body outweigh the instant gratification. Avoid frying and bake instead. Not only is it less effort in the kitchen, but baking requires little oil or butter, resulting in a healthier meal. The next time you want some fried chicken, try seasoning chicken breasts and bake them in the oven for a healthy dinner. Air fryers provide a great alternative to frying- they give you the taste of fried food without the added oil.

Whole wheat bread.

Instead of white, try whole grain

Carbs and bread in particular have gotten such a bad rap these days that folks are ditching them altogether. But whole grain bread, rice, and pasta contain fiber, protein, and vitamins that can be part of a healthy diet for diabetes. It’s important to include them in your carbohydrate counting and meal planning, but they do not need to be eliminated from your diet altogether.


Instead of margarine and spreads, try avocado

Did you know those butter substitutes that are supposedly healthy without compromising taste can contain a lot of trans fats, which can be harmful for heart health? Instead of using imitation butter, try the super fruit, avocado. Avocado can be used instead of butter in all sorts of recipes. The next time you get questioned about the secret ingredient in your brownies, rest assured that your avocado secret is safe with us.

Roasted kale chips with sea salt.

Instead of a bag of potato chips, try veggie versions

We all have those days where we sit in front of the TV and mind-numbingly eat a bag of chips. Next thing you know, somebody has eaten the whole bag! (Hint: somebody = you) Instead of wasting money on chips that neither keep you full nor give you the nutrition you need, bake some kale chips or sweet potato wedges. Combine these healthy alternatives with a movie marathon and treat yourself.

Woman holding lemons.

Instead of salad dressing, try fresh citrus or vinegar

Many salad dressings are loaded with fat, sodium, and sugar, and you’re likely using a couple of tablespoons, which can skyrocket your calorie count (just for the dressing) upwards to the 250-300 range. Instead, try swapping salad dressing with a fresh squeeze of lemon or lime juice, or a flavored vinegar (such as raspberry). Now you’re talking little to no fat, sodium, or calories and can really call your salad “healthy.”

Healthy homemade hummus with vegetables, olive oil and pita chips.

Instead of crackers, try raw veggies

We all experience that midday snack attack, so instead of reaching for crackers and cheese, reach for raw veggies - like carrots or celery - and use those as dippers into your favorite hummus or salsa.

Sparkling water.

Instead of soda, try sparking water

A 12-ounce can of soda has 40 grams of carbs, which are all from sugar. Instead, try one of the many naturally-flavored sparkling waters on the market if you’re craving a drink with some fizz.

Oatmeal porridge with berries and nuts in bowl.

Instead of sweetened cereal, try whole grain

Instead of sweetened cereal, packaged oatmeal, or simple carbohydrate breakfast items like waffles and pancakes, try the whole grain alternatives. Whole grain cereals, oat bran, and steel-cut oatmeal can help to regulate blood sugar, thanks to the high fiber and low glycemic index. Look at the labels of your favorite breakfast items to make sure that they contain 6 grams of sugar or less and at least 3 grams of fiber per serving.

Yumhee Park
Meet Our Writer
Yumhee Park

Yumhee Park is a former content producer for HealthCentral and helped bring important stories of health advocates to life as a member of the Live Bold, Live Now multimedia team.