Healthy Swaps for Diabetes

Poor diet is a significant risk factor for obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Our diet also directly impacts our mental health, hair, skin, and organ functions.

What is a Healthy Diet?

There isn’t just one healthy diet. Eating healthy won’t mean the same thing from person to person. What diet works best for a person depends on several factors like their age, current risk factors, and health.

A healthy, balanced diet is one of the fundamentals of managing diabetes. This means eating a diet rich in whole foods, fresh fruits, and vegetables and consuming less refined sugars, animal fats, and ultra-processed foods.  

Make Small Changes Into Lasting Habits

Depending on your current diet, eating foods that are better for you and your condition can be hard at first. Remember to start slow and don’t try to change everything overnight. 

Looking for somewhere to start? Use these easy food swaps when preparing meals for you and your loved ones to put healthier plates on the table. 


Limit red meat, bacon, cold cuts, and other processed meats.

Swap for…

Fish, seafood, eggs, chicken & turkey breast, beans, tofu, tempeh, and nuts. 


Swap for…

Limit white carbohydrates like white rice, white flour tortillas and noodles, and white potatoes.

Cauliflower rice, chickpea flour pasta, zucchini noodles, pumpkin and squash, almond flour.


Limit full-fat dairy, animal fats like lard and bacon fat, and fatty cuts of meat.

Swap for…

Extra virgin olive oil, avocado, nut butter (ex: almond, peanut, cashew), seed butter (ex: tahini, sunflower), ghee, Greek yogurt, low-fat or plant-based dairy.


Limit desserts, pastries, candy, and alcohol.

Swap for…

Desserts sweetened with fruit, monk fruit or stevia, mocktails, and whole, fresh fruit. 

Preparation Counts

Lastly, don’t let the way you prepare your food make it unhealthy. If you take a whole, healthy food, like a carrot, dip it into batter or breadcrumbs and deep fry it- it is no longer a healthy option.

Here are a few healthy tips to remember when cooking and preparing food:

  • Try air-frying instead of deep frying.
  • Coat in sesame seeds or crushed nuts instead of breadcrumbs.
  • Skip anything that’s “stuffed” or “smothered”.
  • Be mindful of sauces, dips, and toppings.
  • Coat your pan with an oil spray rather than a glug from the bottle.
  • Watch your portion sizes.

Final Thoughts

Your body needs food to function, so it’s important you fuel your body each and every day, regardless of your physical activity level. You never need to earn your food.

Even if you have diabetes, no food is “bad” food. Everything can be enjoyed in moderation. Working with your diabetes care team is the best way to find a diet that fits your lifestyle and benefits your treatment plan. 

Schedule a consultation with a Diabetes Educator.