If you are looking for a diet that complements your diabetes management, continue reading to learn about some different options that are dietitian-approved and may work for you.

🥗DASH Diet

The Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet focuses on consuming fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. It also puts an emphasis on foods that are filled with potassium, calcium, and magnesium while limiting foods that are high in salt/sodium, added sugars, and saturated fats. The DASH diet sets a sodium limit of 2300 mg per day. It also recommends the following daily serving sizes:

  • Grain: 6 – 8 servings
  • Vegetables: 4 – 5 servings
  • Fruits: 4 – 5 servings
  • Fat-Free or Low-Fat: 2 – 3 servings
  • Lean meats, poultry, and fish: six 1 oz servings or less
  • Nuts, seeds, or dry beans and peas: 4 – 5 servings a week
  • Fats and oils: 2 – 3 servings
  • Sweets and added sugar: 5 servings or fewer a week
Below are some tips to help you reduce your sodium intake
  • Choose salt-free spices
  • Don’t add salt when cooking
  • Eat out less
  • Choose vegetables that are fresh or frozen and not in a can
🥬 This diet has been shown to increase insulin sensitivity, promote weight loss, and reduce total cholesterol, blood pressure, and low-density lipoproteins (LDL) cholesterol. A potential disadvantage of this diet is that about half of the diet, calories come from carbohydrates, which can be challenging and requires planning for someone with diabetes.

🥗Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean diet emphasizes plant-based foods and healthy fats, focusing primarily on vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. This diet can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and many other health conditions. On the Mediterranean diet, you should eat:

  • Every meal: fruits, veggies, whole grains, extra olive oil
  • 3 Servings a week: fish/seafood, nuts, legumes
  • 1 serving per day: poultry, low-fat dairy, egg
  • 1 serving per week: red meat, sweets

The Mediterranean diet offers numerous health benefits, including promoting a healthy body weight, supporting healthy blood sugar levels, lowering the risk of metabolic syndrome, and enhancing gut microbiota. So, what exactly does the Mediterranean diet entail?

  • Limits saturated and trans fat
  • Encourages healthy unsaturated fats, including omega-3 fatty acids
  • Limits sodium
  • Limits refined carbohydrates, including sugar
  • Favors foods high in fiber and antioxidants
🥬 Specifically for people with diabetes, the Mediterranean diet has also been shown to increase insulin sensitivity, decrease A1C, and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. However, a potential downside is that maintaining this diet can be more costly to sustain eating fresh foods and seafood.

🥗Diabetes Plate Method

diabetes plate

Using the Diabetes Plate method can help you properly portion without having to calculate portion sizes when utilizing a 9-inch plate.

  1. Non-starchy Vegetables: 1/2 of the plate should be filled with non-starchy vegetables such as broccoli, celery, cucumber, peppers, or tomatoes.
  2. Lean Protein: 1/4 of the plate should be filled with lean protein. Examples of lean protein include chicken breast, turkey, eggs, and cheese. There are also plant-based proteins such as tofu, beans, and nuts that are good options.
  3. Carbohydrates: The last 1/4 of the plate should be filled with healthy carbohydrate-rich foods. Examples of carbohydrate-rich foods include whole grains (brown rice, popcorn), starchy vegetables (squash, sweet potatoes, corn), beans and legumes, fruits, and dairy products (milk or yogurt).
  4. Beverages: Choose water or a low-calorie drink to go with your meal. Water is the best option, but unsweetened coffee or tea, diet soda, or sparkling water are good choices.

🥗Whole 30

This diet consists of two phases: the elimination phase and the reintroduction phase. During the elimination phase, you will remove certain foods from your diet that could cause health issues. The goal is to improve gut health and kickstart your body on a healthier path. Food groups and some examples to avoid during the elimination phase include:

  • Added sugar
  • Alcohol: beer, cider, wine
  • Grains: wheat, corn, rice, oats
  • Legumes: soy, lentils, beans,
  • Dairy: milk, cheese
  • Baked goods, chips, fries
🥬 While on this diet, you should focus on eating seafood, meat, eggs, fruits and vegetables. After the initial 30 days, you will enter the reintroduction phase. During this phase, reintroduce each food group one by one, allowing 2 – 3 days between each group. This helps identify which foods may cause issues. The diet aims to break unhealthy food habits and cravings. When reintroducing foods, start with those least likely to cause problems. If a reintroduced food makes you feel unwell, it might be best to continue avoiding it.

🥗Flexitarian Diet

The final diet we’ll cover in this blog is the flexitarian diet, a blend of vegan and vegetarian diets. While you can consume small amounts of animal products while on this diet, the majority of the diet will consist of plant-based foods. This diet consists of three stages

  1. First Stage: Limiting meat to 2 days/week with no more than 28 ounces of meat per week
  2. Second Stage: Increase plant-based meals to 3-4 times/week, with less than 18 ounces of meet weekly
  3. Third Stage: Reduce meat consumption to no more than 9 oz per week
🥬 One benefit of the flexitarian diet is its environmental friendliness and health advantages. Plant-based diets like this one are rich in fiber and numerous nutrients, which can help in preventing and managing chronic illnesses.


Learn2Health is a meal-planning website offered by Iowa Diabetes. It is designed to help individuals learn how to successfully plan meals on their own. Within the platform, there are different programs offered for purchase. The courses are designed for those that want to eat smarter and healthier. By choosing one of the diets mentioned above and utilizing the Learn2Health platform along with our dietitian’s guidance, you can successfully get started on your new diet


While this is not an exhaustive list of diets, it provides a list to help you explore what diet/diets you might benefit from. The 5 dietitian-recommended diets mentioned above offer various options, but meal planning and ensuring you eat the right foods can be challenging. Working with Iowa Diabetes’s dietitian or purchasing one of the programs available on the Learn2Health website can be an excellent first step