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Keeping a Healthy Kitchen with Diabetes

Keeping the right foods in your kitchen when you have diabetes is an important part of keeping up with your diabetes management.  Sophia Cheung, M.S., R.D., C.D.E., clinical and research nutritionist, at Joslin Diabetes Center, provides some tips on how to keep your kitchen healthier with diabetes.

Tips to Keep your Kitchen Healthier with Diabetes

  • Plant healthy snacks within sight.
  • Keep a big fruit bowl on your kitchen table.
  • Keep a big pitcher of water in the refrigerator.
  • Keep only whole grain, high fiber cereals, breads, pasta and brown rice around.

In addition, try to make healthy foods more appealing, Cheung says.  For example, have nuts, low-fat granola and fruits readily available to add some variety to yogurt; mix cocoa powder or sugar-free chocolate syrup with low-fat milk; and mix and match a colorful container full of fresh vegetables.  Another good idea is to prepare leftovers, such as homemade soups and other entrees.  It helps to keep you from getting take-out when you don’t have time to cook.

Important Foods to Keep in your Kitchen with Diabetes

Fresh vegetables:
- Fresh, cut-up vegetables, such as bell peppers, tomatoes, celery and carrots, are great snack choices mixed with light dips or low-fat mayonnaise.
- Frozen vegetables, such as green beans, broccoli and cauliflower, are great ingredients to add to meals if you don’t have a lot of time and still want to eat healthy.

Fresh fruits:
- Apples, pears, oranges and berries are great high fiber, rich in vitamin snacks.
- Frozen berries and other fruits are great ingredients for blending a smoothie or for adding to frozen yogurt.  They’re also great choices to curve your sweet tooth.

Low-fat yogurt, milk and cheese:
- These choices are good sources of protein and calcium.  Whether eaten as part of a meal or as a snack, they are low-calorie, nutrient-dense food choices.

Low-fat peanut butter or other nut butters and soft margarines:
- Nut butters are full of healthy fats and are very satisfying.
- Soft margarines are usually added with cholesterol lowering benefits and are great substitutions for butter.

Foods to Keep out of your Kitchen with Diabetes

  • Cookies, pastries, candies, sugar-coated cereals
  • High-fat lunch and deli meats
  • Fried foods, chips, cream-based foods
  • Full-fat dairy products
  • Regular juices and sodas

These are all nutrient-scarce, calorie dense foods that provide no healthy benefits, promote weight gain and can contribute to poor oral health when you have diabetes.  When more of these items are stocked in your kitchen, you tend to eat them more often, Cheung says.  The “out of site, out of mind” method will help you stay away from temptation.

Re-check your refrigerator and cabinets monthly to separate the healthy and unhealthy food choices, she says.  Then slowly reduce the amount of unhealthy foods or substitute them for more nutritious alternatives that will benefit your diabetes management.

Page last updated: October 16, 2019