A Sample 1400-Calorie Diabetic Meal Plan

crackers with peanut butter
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If you love to eat, a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes may seem like the end of good food as you know it. It's true that you'll have to rethink what foods you ingest in order to keep your blood sugar, or glucose, at safe and healthy levels.

If you're overweight, which is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes, you may also need to reduce the number of calories you eat to aid in weight loss. The good news is losing excess pounds, along with making other lifestyle changes, such as getting more exercise, may help control your glucose so you don't need to take medication. In addition, you can still eat a variety of nutritious and delicious foods without feeling deprived.

Nutrients for Diabetics to Think About When Meal Planning

When meal planning, it's always a great idea to plan your meals around non-starchy vegetables. This method will help to improve your nutrition and reduce your intake of excess calories, carbohydrates, and fat. A wonderful method to use is called the plate method. The plate method consists of making one-half of your plate non-starchy vegetables, such as salad, broccoli, peppers, etc.

One-fourth of your plate (or about 1 cup's worth) should be dedicated to nutrient-dense carbohydrates, such as brown rice, quinoa, faro, beans, sweet potato, etc. And lastly, the last fourth of your plate may contain a lean protein, such as chicken, fish, lean beef, or tofu. Understanding the best quality sources of carbohydrates, protein, and fat will help you to keep full and improve your blood sugar control.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are the bodies' main source of energy and the nutrient that impacts blood sugar the most. People with diabetes need to monitor their carbohydrate intake because excess carbohydrates, particularly in the form of white, refined, processed, and sugary foods can elevate blood sugars and triglycerides and result in weight gain. When thinking about carbohydrates, you'll want to think about portions as well as type.

Choose carbohydrates that are rich in fiber, such as, whole grains, starchy vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, low-fat dairy, such as Greek yogurt, and low-glycemic index fruits, such as, berries. The total amount of carbohydrate you should eat per meal will depend on a variety of factors such as your age, gender, weight, blood sugar control, and activity level. Generally, most people with diabetes benefit from eating around 30 to 45 grams of carbohydrate per meal, and roughly 15 to 20 grams per snack.

It's always a good idea to meet with a registered dietitian or certified diabetes educator to determine how many carbohydrates are right for you. Keep in mind that every gram of carbohydrates contains about four calories. Therefore, if you are eating, 45 grams of carbohydrate per meal, and 30 grams per snack, you'll be ingesting 660 calories from carbohydrates per day. 

Protein

Protein is the macronutrient that contains no carbohydrates (unless breaded, fried, or covered in sauce/condiments). Adequate protein intake is important for boosting immunity, wound healing, muscle recovery, and has satiating power. When eating a calorie controlled diet, it's important to choose lean protein (as these types will have fewer calories and fat).

Stick to sources like white meat chicken (without skin), pork, turkey, lean beef (95% lean), egg whites, and low-fat dairy. If you are vegan or vegetarian, beans, and soy-based protein, such as edamame, and tofu are also sources of protein, but keep in mind they contain carbohydrate, too—and these carbohydrates should be added to the total carbohydrate amount per meal. Protein also contains four calories per gram. Some studies suggest that eating a higher fat, higher protein breakfast can reduce hemoglobin A1C in people with diabetes. 

Fat

Fat is another macronutrient that contains no carbohydrate. Fat plays an important role in the body and is necessary for absorbing fat-soluble vitamins. Essential fatty acids, such as omega 3 and omega 6, are building blocks of hair, skin, and nails and are important in brain health and have anti-inflammatory properties.

When choosing sources of fat, you'll want to choose unsaturated fats such as oils, nuts, seeds, avocado, and fatty fish like sardines, and salmon. Limit saturated fat and trans fat as often as possible, such as full-fat cheese, fried foods, high-fat meats like sausage and bacon, butter, cream, and sweets such as cookies and cakes.

Portions of fat should also be monitored, even healthy fats because fat calories can add up quickly. One gram of fat contains nine calories. A serving of fat, such as a teaspoon of olive oil, is considered to have 5 grams of fat and 45 calories.

Most people benefit from eating about 20 to 30 percent of their calories from fat. So for example, if you are eating a 1400-calorie diet that contains 20 percent of calories from fat, you'd be ingesting about 30 grams of fat.

Sample 3-Day Diabetic Meal Plan

What will your daily diet look like as you begin to eat with your condition in mind? Here's a sample three-day meal plan to give you an idea of how easy it really is to eat healthfully without depriving yourself when you have type 2 diabetes.

It includes sample meals for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. The entire day's worth of food adds up to around 1,400 calories, with about 50 percent of calories from carbohydrates (this can be reduced if your blood sugars are too high). It's a great jumping off point for planning future meals. Just keep in mind that you'll need to rejigger it if your doctor recommends you eat a different number of calories—1,200, say, or 2,200 each day.

Day 1

Breakfast

1 low-fat Greek yogurt (plain)

¾ cup blueberries

12 almonds or 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed meal

Coffee with milk

Total carbohydrate: ~30 grams carbohydrate

Lunch

1 whole grain wrap (can use corn or rice if gluten-free)

4 oz grilled chicken breast

Onions, peppers, spinach

1/3 avocado

Side of strawberries 1 ¼ cup

Total carbohydrate: ~45 grams carbohydrate

Snack

1 small apple (~4oz) with 1 tablespoon all natural peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter or sun butter. 

Total carbohydrate: ~ 20 grams

Dinner

4 oz grilled turkey burger (made with 99% lean ground white turkey meat)

1 medium baked sweet potato topped with cinnamon

1 cup sautéed spinach with garlic and 1 teaspoon olive oil

Side salad with 1 tablespoon dressing

Total carbohydrate: ~ 45 grams

Snack

3 cups air-popped popcorn with two tablespoons Parmesan cheese

Total carbohydrate: ~ 20 grams

Day 2

Breakfast

3 scrambled egg whites + 1 whole egg

½ cup cooked spinach (left over from the night before- you can sub spinach for another non-starchy vegetable)

¼ cup low-fat shredded cheese

Total carbohydrates: ~30 grams

Lunch

Quinoa bowl ingredients:

1 cup cooked quinoa

1 cup chopped tomatoes and carrots

1/3 avocado or 6 diced olives

3 oz diced roast chicken or grilled or baked fish

Total carbohydrates: ~ 50 grams

Snack

15 baby carrots with 1 tablespoon peanut butter

Total carbohydrates: ~20 grams

Dinner

4 oz sauteed shrimp with garlic and olive oil, lemon, spaghetti squash or zucchini ribbons

1/2 cup herb roasted potatoes

Total carbohydrate: ~30 grams

Snack

1/2 cup fruit salad

Total carbohydrate: ~15 grams

Day 3

Breakfast

Pumpkin oatmeal bowl ingredients:

  • 1 cup cooked oatmeal (read package instructions for cooking directions) 
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk 
  • 1/4 cup 100% pure pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup blueberries (frozen or fresh) 
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 cup chopped walnuts or slivered almonds 

Instructions

  1. Cook oatmeal according to package instructions using water.
  2. Once oatmeal is fluffy add almond milk, pumpkin puree, cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg, and berries and stir in ground flaxseed.
  3. Top with slivered almonds or chopped walnuts. 

Carbohydrate: ~ 45 grams

Lunch

Salmon salad ingredients:

6 ounce canned wild salmon (boneless, skinless) Serving size: 1 cup

Garbanzo beans (1/2 cup rinsed)

1/2 cup chopped red onion

1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Total carbohydrate: ~ 30 grams carbohydrates

Snack

7 Triscuits – top with 1-2 tablespoons bean dip spread and chopped parsley. 

Total carbohydrate: ~25 grams

Dinner

Lean meat/beef (3 oz) (grilled)

~1 cup roasted butternut squash or another starch

1 cup roasted Brussels sprouts

Total carbohydrates: ~40 grams carbohydrate

Snack

1 cup melon with 1 slice low-fat cheddar cheese

Total carbohydrate: ~ 15 grams

A Word from Verywell

Eating a diet that is rich in vegetables, lean protein, and healthy fats can improve overall health. If you have diabetes, the type and quantity of carbohydrate you eat in one sitting is important. In addition, you may need to lower your calorie intake—consuming fewer calories can help you lose weight and reduce your blood sugars.

This three-day 1400-calorie meal plan is a great place to start. But, before starting any meal plan, consult with your physician to make sure it's right for you—depending on a variety of factors you may need to consume more of fewer calories.

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