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Healthy Eating for Type 2 Diabetes

Eat-well advice for managing your disease, plus recipes from the Canyon Ranch Kitchen
Written by 
Canyon Ranch Staff
Canyon Ranch Reviewer: 
Updated on: 
August 10, 2014

A type 2 diabetes diagnosis often conjures up thoughts of long lists of dos and don’ts and complex eating plans that you need a decoder ring to figure out. While you may need to tweak your current habits to best manage your disease, it may be comforting to know that the basic nutritional recommendations for you echo general healthy eating guidelines we recommend for everyone (balanced nutrition, moderation).

With that said, an even blood sugar pattern results in better-regulated insulin levels—and food’s role in that can’t be overstated. When it comes to picks that help maintain that steadiness best, it’s worth paying special attention to incorporating choices with these features:

High Fiber Content: This nutrient improves satiety (how full you feel) and slows the rate at which carbohydrates are digested. The result? Extended periods of blood sugar, energy, mood and appetite control.

Low Glycemic Index Score: This scale is an indicator of how rapidly blood sugar rises after a food is ingested. Where a food falls depends on the specific type of carbohydrate in it and its fiber type and content. (Protein and fat also slow carb absorption, but most carbohydrate-rich foods contain too little protein or fat to alter the glycemic score much.) Low GI foods—those with ratings of 55 or less—are digested and absorbed more slowly than high ones, keeping your blood sugar more stable over time. 

These cornerstones of a healthy, balanced diet offer both:

  • Beans and legumes, such as lentils, kidney beans, soybeans and peas
  • Whole grains, such as barley, oats and sprouted grains. Quinoa, while not technically a grain, is used much like one, and it’s a particularly good choice for blood sugar regulation, as it has both high fiber and the higher protein and fat content of a seed.
  • Fruits and vegetables, such as pears, apples, spinach and artichokes*

*Most produce ranks low on the Glycemic Index, though some falls into the moderate (grapes, beets) and high (watermelon, potatoes) categories, depending on type and size.

“Following these simple guidelines can help everyone better manage blood sugar.”

A nutritionist can help you devise realistic meal plans and shopping lists that fit both your specific nutritional needs and desires. We recommend eating every three to four hours, so make sure you have some options for snacks as well as your “three squares.”

At Canyon Ranch, we develop all of our recipes with satisfying flavor and optimal nutrition in mind. With an eye toward a balanced approach that takes into account all that you’re eating throughout the day, any of our recipes can be used when managing diabetes. What’s most important is creating (or choosing) a high-fiber meal that includes a whole-food carbohydrate, a lean protein, vegetables and healthy fats. Here are some combinations that fit the bill. Talk to your nutritionist about the best balance for you, and use his or her advice when selecting from the options in the rest of our recipe library.

Chopped Vegetable and Bean Salad (Add grilled chicken or fish to boost the protein.)

Egg White Omelette with Cheese & Vegetables with a side of fresh berries

Green Bean & Edamame Stir-Fry

Halibut with Avocado Sauce paired with Broccolini with Garlic and Olive Oil

Salmon with Blueberry Mango Salsa, Oat Cakes and sautéed kale

Southwest Turkey Breakfast Stack with side of fresh melon

Vegetarian Bean Chili paired with Cucumber Tomato Salad

Wasabi-Crusted Mahi Mahi with Ponzu Sauce and vegetables

Lamb Chops with Pomegranate Molasses paired with Soft Corn Polenta and Roasted Fennel


“Following these simple guidelines can help everyone better manage blood sugar.”
American Diabetes Association
Mayo Clinic
The University of Sydney