3-Day Diabetes Meal Plan: 1,200 Calories

By: Victoria Seaver, M.S., R.D., C.D., Digital Meal Plan Editor

Eating with diabetes doesn't need to be restrictive or complicated.

Healthy eating is the cornerstone of managing diabetes, yet it can be a challenge figuring out what to eat to balance your blood sugar. Here we've created a delicious 3-day meal plan that makes it easier to follow a diabetes diet. In this plan you'll find a mix of nutritious foods including fiber-rich complex carbohydrates, like whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein sources, healthy fats and dairy.

This plan limits the amount of foods with refined carbohydrates (think white bread, white rice and sugar), added sugars and saturated fats, which can negatively impact your health if you eat too much. The carbohydrates are balanced throughout the day with each meal containing 2-3 carb servings (30-45 grams of carbohydrates) and each snack containing around 1 carb serving (15 grams of carbohydrates). The calorie and carbohydrate totals are listed next to each meal and snack so you can swap foods with similar nutrition in and out as you like. Eating with diabetes doesn't need to be restrictive or complicated. Incorporating a variety of foods, as we do in this meal plan, is a healthy and sustainable approach to managing diabetes.

Not sure if this is the right plan for you? Calculate your calorie level and find the diet meal plan that will work best for you.

Day 1

Meal Prep Tip: Cook or set aside an extra 1/2 cup of black beans tonight at dinner to have for lunch on Day 2. Be sure to rinse canned beans to get rid of excess salt.

Breakfast (298 calories, 32 grams carbohydrates)
• 1 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
• 1/2 cup blueberries
• 1 1/2 Tbsp. chopped walnuts
• 2 tsp. honey
Top yogurt with blueberries, walnuts and honey.

Note: We use a small amount of added sweetener, in this case honey, in plain yogurt. People with diabetes can still eat small amounts of sweet foods. And adding the honey to plain yogurt, rather than buying sugary flavored yogurt, allows you to control the amount of sugar. Pairing carbohydrates with protein and fiber slows down the digestion and absorption process, helping to keep your blood sugar from rising too quickly.

A.M. Snack (51 calories, 13 grams carbohydrates)
• 6 dried apricots

Note: When buying dried fruits read the ingredient list and try to avoid any with added sugar.

Lunch (333 calories, 39 grams carbohydrates)
Turkey & Cheese Melt
• 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
• 1 slice whole-wheat bread
• 2 thin slices low-sodium deli turkey (2 ounces)
• 2 slices tomato
• 1 slice provolone cheese
Spread mustard on bread and top with turkey, tomato and cheese. Toast until the cheese begins to melt.
• 1 medium apple

Note: The carbohydrate and fiber content of store-bought breads can vary greatly. Aim for a bread that delivers around 1 carbohydrate serving (15 grams of carbs) and upwards of 20% of the daily value for fiber for one slice.

P.M. Snack (62 calories, 15 grams carbohydrates)
• 1 medium orange

Dinner (491 calories, 42 grams carbohydrates)
Shrimp & Spiced Black Beans
• 5 oz. shrimp, cooked in 1 tsp. olive oil and seasoned with a pinch each of salt and pepper
• 1 cup veggies of your choice (try peppers & onions), cooked in 1 1/2 tsp. olive oil with a pinch each of salt and pepper
• 2/3 cup cooked black beans seasoned with crushed red pepper
• 1/4 cup salsa or pico de gallo
• 1/4 medium avocado
Garnish with cilantro & lime for extra flavor.

Note: Black beans deliver a combination of a fiber, carbs and protein—a mix that helps to keep blood sugar balanced and helps you feel more satisfied.

Day 2

Pictured Recipe: Millet-Stuffed Peppers with Ginger & Tofu

Breakfast (295 calories, 32 grams carbohydrates)
Egg & Avocado Toast
• 1 slice whole-wheat bread, toasted
• 1/4 avocado, mashed
• 1 large egg, cooked in 1/4 tsp. olive oil or coat pan with a thin layer of cooking spray (1-second spray).
Top toast with mashed avocado and egg and season with a pinch each of salt and pepper.
• 3/4 cup blueberries

A.M. Snack (95 calories, 25 grams carbohydrates)
• 1 medium apple

Lunch (335 calories, 47 grams carbohydrates)
Green Salad with Black Beans & Veggies
• 2 cups mixed greens
• 1/2 cup black beans, left over from last night's dinner
• 1/2 medium tomato, diced
• 1/2 cup cucumber slices
• 1/2 medium bell pepper, diced
Combine ingredients and top with a mix of 1 Tbsp. olive oil, 2 Tbsp. lime juice and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Garnish with fresh cilantro, if desired.
• 1 medium orange

P.M. Snack (50 calories, 12 grams carbohydrates)
• 2 medium carrots

Dinner (425 calories, 42 grams carbohydrates)
• 1 serving Millet Stuffed Peppers with Ginger & Tofu
• 1 cup roasted broccoli tossed with 1 1/2 tsp. sesame oil and seasoned with a pinch each of salt and pepper

Day 3

Pictured Recipe: Sausage-&-Quinoa Stuffed Zucchini

Breakfast (263 calories, 36 grams carbohydrates)
Oatmeal with Fruit & Nuts
• 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats, cooked in 1/2 cup each milk and water
• 1/4 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
• 1/4 cup blueberries
• 1 Tbsp. chopped walnuts
Cook oats and top with yogurt, blueberries and walnuts.

Note: Oats are a great high-fiber option for breakfast. The less processed the oat, the higher the fiber content—instead of instant oats, try old-fashioned, rolled or steel-cut oats. Old-fashioned oats take 10 minutes or so to cook, with heartier oats taking longer. If you're feeling rushed in the mornings, try this recipe for overnight oats that can be heated up in the microwave or pull out your crock pot to make a bigger batch of creamy oats.

A.M. Snack (101 calories, 27 grams carbohydrates)
• 1 medium pear

Lunch (336 calories, 37 grams carbohydrates)
Tomato-Cheese Toast
• 1 slice whole-wheat bread
• 1/4 avocado, mashed
• 1/2 medium tomato, sliced
• 1 slice provolone cheese
Top bread with avocado, tomato and cheese and toast until the cheese begins to melt. Drizzle with 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar and a pinch of pepper.
• 1 medium orange

P.M. Snack (75 calories, 18 grams carbohydrates)
• 3 medium carrots

Dinner (441 calories, 51 grams carbohydrates)
• 1 serving Sausage-&-Quinoa Stuffed Zucchini
• 1 cup mixed greens topped with a mix of 1 tsp. each olive oil & red-wine vinegar
• 1 medium apple, sliced and sprinkled with cinnamon, to enjoy after dinner

Note: This meal plan is controlled for calories, carbohydrates, fiber, saturated fat and sodium. If another nutrient is of particular concern, speak with your health-care provider about altering this meal plan to better suit your individual health needs.

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