Sample Diabetes 1800-Calorie Meal Plan

One Day of Tasty and Well-Balanced Meals

Grilled chicken breast with corn salsa.

Jonathan Pollock / Getty Images 

If you have just been diagnosed with diabetes, or a group of conditions that impact the body's ability to control blood sugar, you may find yourself searching for a good diabetic diet meal plan.

Individuals with diabetes need to manage and control their intake of carbohydrates, or a nutrient broken down into blood sugar. Doing so not only helps to control blood sugars but can also reduce the risk of serious health issues like heart conditions.

This article offers a sample meal plan for an 1800-calorie diabetic diet.

According to the American Diabetes Association, the recommended targets for people two hours after eating are:

  • Non-pregnant adults: Less than 180 mg/dL
  • Pregnant individuals with gestational diabetes: 120 mg/dL or less
  • Pregnant individuals with pre-existing type 1 or type 2 diabetes: 120 mg/dL to 129 mg/dL

What Does an 1800-Calorie Diabetic Diet Look Like?

First, it's important to note not every meal plan works for every person. For some people, the total amount of carbohydrates in this meal plan may seem too much. Some people with diabetes benefit from eating a lower carbohydrate diet.

This particular meal plan was made for people looking to eat an 1,800-calorie diet. In it, you'll find three carbohydrate-controlled meals, one snack, and one dessert, totaling about 1,800 calories.

Carbohydrate Recommendations

Individuals with diabetes should get about half of their calories from carbs. In an 1800-calorie diet, about 900 calories can come from carbs.

Calorie Recommendations

Before searching for meals and meal plans, it is wise to determine how many calories and carbohydrates you need to reach your weight and blood sugar goals. Individual needs vary, so if you haven't already, set up a meeting with a registered dietitian or certified diabetes educator to get an idea of your ideal caloric and carbohydrate intake.

Diabetes-Friendly Breakfast

Smoothies can be protein and vitamin-rich. When made with the right ingredients, they taste good and are a quick, filling breakfast option.

Breakfast smoothie (combine and blend until smooth):

  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 3/4 cup mixed berries
  • 2 scoops protein powder
  • 1 tablespoon flaxseed oil
  • 1/2 cup dried coconut
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Nutrition facts: 560 calories, 27 g carbohydrate, 36 g saturated fat, 10 g sugar, 12 g fiber, 46 g protein

Diabetes-Friendly Lunch

Corn, Tomato, and Avocado Salad:

  • 1 cup chopped lettuce (spinach, mixed greens, romaine)
  • 1 cup diced tomato
  • 1/2 cup corn (roasted and cut from the cob or use frozen)
  • 1/2 fresh avocado (diced)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil with balsamic vinegar
  • 4 ounces of cooked chicken breast

Toss roasted corn, tomato, salad dressing, chicken, and avocado together while the corn is still warm. This will slightly melt the avocado and create a creamier dressing. Chill and serve over lettuce.

Drink 8 to 12 ounces of ice water with sliced lemon.

Nutrition facts: 538 calories, 24.8 g carbohydrate, 32 g fat, 5.2 g saturated fat, 4.9 g sugar, 40 g protein, 11 g fiber

Diabetes-Friendly Dinner

Grilled Chicken and Broccoli with Brown Rice 

  • 1 pre-packaged chicken breast (about 4 ounces, or you can also try salmon or lean beef)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 pinch black pepper
  • 2 cups raw broccoli cut into spears (can substitute for frozen or another non-starchy vegetable)
  • 2/3 cup cooked long-grain brown rice
  • 3/4 cup of berries with 2 teaspoons of unsweetened whipped cream

Rub chicken breast with olive oil and sprinkle with black pepper and garlic powder, and grill. Place broccoli in a microwave-safe bowl, pour a little water over the top and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave for 3-5 minutes, or until soft.

If you'd prefer not to use your microwave, steam broccoli in a saucepan with a small amount of water. Add a teaspoon of lemon juice and garlic powder for flavor. Cook rice as per package instructions.

Savor the fruit and cream for dessert.

Nutrition facts: 615 calories, 62 g carbohydrate, 12 g fat, 5.2 g saturated fat, 5.8 g sugar, 53 g protein, 11.3 g fiber

Simple Snack Ideas

Try snacking on:

  • 15 baby carrots or 1 small apple
  • 1 hard-boiled egg or 1 ounce of popcorn

Nutrition facts: 138 calories, 12.6 g carbohydrate, 5.1 g fat, 1.5 g saturated fat, 8 g sugar, 7.5 g protein, 4.5 g fiber

How to Know if Your Meal Plan Is Working

A good way to check to see if your meal plan works for you is to test your blood sugar before and two hours after a meal. Check to see how much your blood sugar has risen two hours after the start of your meal and compare your level to your recommended targets.

Summary

If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, you may find it helpful to use meal plans to help you control your blood sugar levels. Speak with your healthcare provider about your exact blood sugar targets.

3 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American Diabetes Association Professional Practice Committee. 6. Glycemic targets: Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes-2022. Diabetes Care. 2022;45(Suppl 1):S83-S96. doi:10.2337/dc22-S006

  2. American Diabetes Association Professional Practice Committee. 15. Management of diabetes in pregnancy: Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes-2022. Diabetes Care. 2022;45(Suppl 1):S232-S243. doi:10.2337/dc22-S015

  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Carb counting.