Diabetes Self-Management Articles

What you eat, how much you eat, and when you eat all have an impact on blood glucose, and following an individualized meal plan can help you improve blood glucose control. Check out the articles in this section to learn about meal planning, measuring food portions, carbohydrate counting, and other nutrition-related topics.


Adopting a Vegetarian Meal Plan by Alissa Heizler-Mendoza, RD, CDN, CDE, and Megha Desai, MD

Because a vegetarian meal plan has been shown to be helpful in lowering your risk of heart disease, stroke, and other diabetes-related complications, vegetarianism may be another tool to consider as you travel the road toward optimal diabetes health…

Also inside: Cooking With Tofu, Resources, Vegetarian Protein Sources

Anti-Inflammatory Diets by Monica J. Smith

A quick perusal of the Web or the health and diet section of any bookstore will turn up a number of articles and books with the word “inflammation” in the title. Authors blame the insidious condition for everything from hay fever and depression to crow’s feet; many assure readers that adherence to their specialized, anti-inflammation diet plan will help them shed pounds, banish pain, and reverse the clock…

Also inside: Salsalate Study

Antioxidants by Robert A. Jacob, Ph.D.

Oxygen is a Jekyll and Hyde element. We need it for critical body functions, such as respiration and immune response, but the element’s dark side is a reactive chemical nature that can damage body cells and tissues. The perpetrators of this…


Are You Label-Able? by Belinda O’Connell, MS, RD, CDE, and Laura Hieronymus, MSEd, APRN, BC-ADM, CDE

Eating healthfully and following a meal plan are key components of good diabetes care whether you use oral medicines, insulin, or diet and exercise to manage your diabetes. Knowing how to read a food label can help you choose healthful foods, figure out…

Also inside: for Sample Food Labels, Calculating Carbohydrate Choices, Personalizing the Percent Daily Value, Health Claims, and Label Terms

Barley the Italian Way by Johanna Burani, MS, RD, CDE

Although here in America, Italian cooking is often associated with pizza and pasta, this nation’s cuisine is about more than just spaghetti and meatballs. During a recent trip to Italy, I had the pleasure of both cooking in the kitchen of an old friend and spending an afternoon deep in culinary conversation with a professional chef from a prominent local vineyard. The following recipes, featuring barley, are theirs…


Being Supermarket Savvy by Patti Geil, MS, RD, CDE, FADA, and Alissa Heizler, RD, CDE

Downsizing, layoffs, and frozen salaries mean challenging times for even the most cost-conscious penny pinchers. Savvy shopping ability is now a priceless skill…

Also inside: Help From the USDA, Savvy Shopping Habits

Calculating for the Holidays by Tara Dairman

The holiday season can sometimes feel like one long eating marathon — but there are tools out there to help you cope…


Calories: The Key to Weight Control by Laurie Block, MS, RD, CDE

Nutrition is an ever-changing science with one consistent message: If you are above a healthy body weight, lose weight. The World Health Organization, the National Academy of Sciences, and many other organizations consider weight loss to be the first…

Also inside: Burning Calories, How Many Calories Do You Need?, Choosing Leaner Proteins

Carbohydrate Counting, Glycemic Index, and Glycemic Load: Putting Them All Together by Jacquie Craig, MS, RD, LD, CDE

Meal planning is often called a cornerstone of diabetes management, but there are many ways to plan a meal, and not all of them will help to keep blood glucose levels in target range. Among those that will is carbohydrate counting, and when the glycemic index of carbohydrate-containing foods is also taken into account, the results may be even better…

Also inside: Same Carbohydrate, Different Glycemic Load, Sample Menu and Shopping List, Sweets and Desserts

Carbohydrate Factors by Dana Armstrong, RD, CDE, and Jan Chait

Meal-planning is one of the cornerstones of diabetes management, and carbohydrate counting is one of the basics of diabetes meal planning. Keeping track of the amount of carbohydrate you eat is important because carbohydrate (rather than protein or fat…

Also inside: Carbohydrate Factors at a Glance, Where to Find Carbohydrate Factors, Carbohydrate Factor Reference List

Choosing a Multivitamin by Marie Spano, MS, RD

A good diet can supply most if not all of the vitamins and minerals you need. But maintaining such a diet day in and day out can be a challenge, which is why many people take a daily multivitamin–multimineral supplement as a form of insurance…

Also inside: Vitamins, Minerals

Cooking Oils by Lea Ann Holzmeister, RD, CDE

Fat plays many important roles in a healthful diet. It provides energy and essential fatty acids, which are necessary for good health. It helps to maintain healthy skin and to regulate cholesterol metabolism, and it contributes to substances in the body…

Also inside: Check Your Oil

Cooking With Herbs and Spices by Marie Spano, M.S., R.D.

Herbs and spices are a healthy cook’s best friend. They are excellent for enhancing the flavor of food without the addition of extra fat, sugar, or salt. But herbs and spices have other benefits, as well: They exhibit antimicrobial (germ-killing…

Also inside: Do Try This at Home, Seasonings by Cuisine

Counting Carbohydrates Like a Pro by Gary Scheiner, MS, CDE

Let’s get this straight: There is no such thing as a “pro” when it comes to carbohydrate counting. There is no master’s degree or PhD in Carbohydrate Science at any major university, nor is there a course focusing on carbohydrate counting in any…

Also inside: Estimating Portion Sizes, Resources, Carbohydrate Per Cup

Cutting Back on Sodium by Julie Lichty Balay, MS, RD

The human body needs both to function properly, and indeed, human taste buds are programmed to seek out salty food. Consuming too much sodium, however, can contribute to numerous health problems…

Also inside: Salts and Salt Substitutes, Label Talk

Dealing With Meal Plan Blahs by Kelly Van Horn, RD, CDE

Have you ever felt blah about your diabetes meal plan? Eating healthfully for diabetes control demands time, thought, and emotion. People who are new to diabetes often have a lot to learn about planning healthy meals for blood sugar control, and figuring…

Also inside: Shopping Tips, Tools for Meal Planning, Carbohydrate Choices and Low-Carbohydrate Foods

Diabetes Nutrition Bars and Shakes by Patti Geil, MS, RD, FADA, CDE

“Clinically shown to help manage blood glucose levels.” “Helps reduce excessive food consumption.” “Nutritional support for blood-sugar stability.” “Avoid blood sugar lows and highs.” “May help you lower A1C levels.”

Wouldn’t it be great if a specially formulated snack bar or shake could do all that?

Also inside: Can They Help You Lose Weight?

Diet Soft Drinks by Mary Franz, MS, RD, LD

It is commonly accepted that people with diabetes can drink artificially sweetened soft drinks — diet soda, to most people — without risk of raising their blood glucose level. But new research suggests that consumption of diet soda may not be as harmless as the conventional wisdom holds…

Also inside: Amounts of Sweeteners in Popular Diet Sodas

Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 by Patti Geil, MS, RD, FADA, CDE

From friends and family to members of your health-care team to complete strangers, it may seem like everyone is giving you nutrition advice. Some of these people may know you have diabetes; others likely do not. With so many different and often conflicting recommendations, how can you know which claims have a basis in science and which are pure hokum?

Also inside: Dietary Guidelines at a Glance, Shaking the Salt Habit, The Benefits of Beans, ChooseMyPlate.gov

Eating for Better Vision and Healthy Eyes by Linnea Hagberg, RD

For generations, mothers have advised their children to eat their carrots for the sake of their eyes. Indeed, carrots do contain compounds that are vital to vision. But today’s moms and others wanting to eat for eye health should know that eating for better vision is not just about carrots anymore…

Also inside: Going for the Greens

Eating on the Go by Patti Geil, MS, RD, CDE, and Laura Hieronymus, MSEd, APRN, BC-ADM, CDE

As you rush from one activity to the next, it’s often more convenient to grab the nearest quick food to keep your energy level and blood glucose up, without considering the effect on your health. It may be faster to grab something from the vending machine as you run to your next appointment, but are you really making the best food choice within your time limitations?

Also inside: Best Bites From the Vending Machine, Helpful Resources, Raising the Bar

Eating Well on a Budget by Anita H. King, DNP, FNP-C, FAADE

The economic downturn of recent years has been an eye-opener for nearly all Americans. Everyone, it seems, is trying to stretch a dollar. This is especially true when it comes to food, since there is such a wide range of options (and prices) available…

Also inside: A Few More Tips

Eating Well While Traveling by Laura Hieronymus, MSEd, RN, BC-ADM, CDE, and Angela Hepner, MEd, RD, LD, CDE

At some point, all of us travel from one place to another — for pleasure, business, or some other reason. And unless a trip is extremely short, the need to eat will eventually arise. When you’ve got diabetes, healthy eating is an essential part of your diabetes treatment plan…

Also inside: Take-Away Dining Tips, Using Your Hands to Estimate Portions

Essential Fatty Acids in Health and Disease by Alisa G. Woods, PhD

Maybe primitive humans had it better than we think. Sure, they had to forage and struggle just to eat, but what they ate was actually more nutritious than what many modern humans consume daily in industrialized countries like the United States. Even the food in many developing countries today, usually grown locally without advanced agricultural techniques, is more nutritious than the typical American diet…

Also inside: Omega Bites

Food Scoring for Better Nutrition by Rita Carey, M.S., R.D., C.D.E.

Choosing the healthiest foods from the thousands of items available at your local supermarket can be one of the most challenging aspects of learning to eat well with diabetes. Consider the fact that a medium-size U.S. grocery store sells 45,000 different…


Functional Foods by Amy Campbell, MS, RD, LDN, CDE

Chances are that you’ve heard the phrase “functional foods,” but maybe you aren’t sure just what it refers to. Rest assured that most functional foods are not foods created in a laboratory somewhere, but instead are many of the foods you probably eat every day.

Also inside: Functional Foods at Work

Glycemic Index Update by Julie Lichty Balay, MS, RD

The term glycemic index was coined by researchers more than 25 years ago, and it offered a new way of classifying foods containing carbohydrate according to their effect on blood glucose level following a meal. Up until that point, for the purposes of…

Also inside: High, Low, and Intermediate, Tips for Meal Planning, Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load of Select Foods

Going With the (Whole) Grain by Laura Hieronymus, MSEd, APRN, BC-ADM, CDE, and Patti Geil, MS, RD, CDE

Grains provide many nutrients that are vital for the health and maintenance of your body. But not all grains and grain products are equally nutritious. Whole grains and grain products contain all of the parts of the grain—including the germ, the…

Also inside: Adding Whole Grains to Your Menus, Identifying Whole Grains, What Counts as an Ounce?

Healthful Eating: A Family Affair by Patti Geil, MS, RD, FADA, CDE, and Laura Hieronymus, MSEd, RN, BC-ADM, CDE

Diabetes is a serious, chronic illness. It’s known that genetics play an important part in the development of diabetes, particularly Type 2 diabetes. On the positive side, taking care of yourself by making healthy diabetes-related choices and encouraging your at-risk family members to do the same may also improve their well-being…

Also inside: Family Matters, Take-Away Tips

Healthy Eating on a Budget by Patti Geil, MS, RD, CDE, and Laura Hieronymus, MSEd, APRN, BC-ADM, CDE

“Healthy food costs too much money” is a common meal-planning myth and one that could be preventing you from enjoying the benefits of eating healthfully while spending less. It may be true that sugar-free and fat-free versions of certain…

Also inside: Shopping Cart Smarts

High-Fructose Corn Syrup by Mary Franz, MS, RD, LD

If you have been following the recent media coverage of fructose and high-fructose corn syrup, chances are good that you are confused by the often contradictory reports about these sweeteners. What is the truth about fructose and high-fructose corn syrup?


Home Cooking by Johanna Burani

With the US economy still in the doldrums and unemployment high, many Americans are struggling to stretch every dollar as far as possible, and that includes their food dollars. It is in times like these that imagination and creativity in the kitchen become especially important…


Improving Your Recipes by Sandy Bjerkness, RD, LD

This article lays out a few general guidelines to help you lighten up almost any favorite recipe, warns you about some changes that probably won’t yield good results, and demonstrates how it’s often possible to make changes to recipes that not only make the dish healthier but that also produce food that looks and tastes great…

Also inside: Lower-Fat Meat and Dairy Products, Reducing Sodium

Intuitive Eating by Linda Bacon, PhD, and Judith Matz, LCSW

The secret to managing your diabetes lies in learning to celebrate food and its amazing ability to nourish you. A new approach to diabetes management that emphasizes wellness rather encourages people to trust their body to guide them in making nourishing food choices…

Also inside: For More Information

Is Going Organic the Way to Go? by Amy Campbell, MS, RD, CDE

As a person with diabetes, you’ve most likely given some thought to what you choose to eat. Perhaps you’re counting carbohydrates or following a tailored eating plan; maybe you’re careful to make heart-healthy food choices or are trying to incorporate…


Just Add Fiber? by Jill Corleone, RD, CNSD

Anyone who has shopped at a mainstream grocery store lately has probably noticed a lot of new products touting their fiber or whole-grain content. But does fiber being added have the same benefits as the fiber found naturally…

Also inside: Functional Fibers

Lifestyle Habits for Lipid Management by Heidi Mochari, MPH, RD

It is no secret that abnormal levels of fats and cholesterol in the blood are associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease. These fats and cholesterol are called blood lipids, and the good news is that there are effective ways to manage them. In fact, dramatic improvements in lipid levels can be achieved through simple lifestyle changes…

Also inside: Saturated Fat Goals, Sources of Soluble Fiber

Living Gluten-Free

At first, a diagnosis of celiac disease may seem overwhelming, given that gluten can be found in so many things. The following resources offer guidance on shopping, cooking, and eating safely for people with celiac disease or any other form of gluten sensitivity…


Looking Beyond “Low-Carb” Labels by Dianne De Mink

I couldn’t believe it. Right there on the grocery store shelf was a mint chocolate candy bar with no sugar. I was so excited I almost ate it before checking out. Three hours later, however, I felt a lot less enthusiastic about this product. Even with no sugar, it had somehow caused my blood glucose level to skyrocket…

Also inside: Low-Carbohydrate Comparison, Beer Nutrition Facts

Mindful Eating by Megrette Hammond, M.Ed., R.D., C.D.E.

A diagnosis of diabetes changes everything. It frequently changes a person’s perception of himself and of his health. The demands of diabetes care can also change a person’s daily routine. A diabetes diagnosis is almost always accompanied…


More Food, Less You by Betty Kovacs, MS, RD

If you want to lose weight, you need to eat less food, right? Wrong. When you cut back on the amount of food you eat, you may actually stimulate your appetite, causing you to eat more than usual rather than less. Obviously, this makes losing weight difficult if not impossible. So how is it possible to lose weight without eating less food? The answer is to eat fewer calories, not less food, and this article shows you how…

Also inside: Determining Energy Density, Energy Density of Foods

Natural Ways to Lower Your Cholesterol by Amy Campbell, MS, RD, CDE

High cholesterol has long been known to raise the risk of heart and blood vessel disease in people with diabetes and without. Unfortunately, it’s very common among Americans generally, including those with diabetes. The good news is that there’s a lot you can do to lower your cholesterol and, consequently, lower your risk of heart disease

Also inside: For More Information

Prepare Whole Foods Fast! by Rita E. Carey, MS, RD, CDE

Most people with diabetes know that what they eat can have a profound effect on their ability to achieve their blood glucose goals. The pressure cooker reduces the cooking time for beans, grains, and other foods by at least a third, and uses less energy..

Also inside: Pressure Check

Probiotics and Prebiotics by Amy Campbell, MS, RD, LDN, CDE

If you’re someone who likes to keep up with the latest in food and nutrition, you’ve undoubtedly heard or read about probiotics and prebiotics. You might know that they can aid digestion and reduce bloating, as touted in countless yogurt commercials on TV. But perhaps you didn’t know that they have numerous other potential health benefits. You might even be shocked to learn what probiotics really are: bacteria…

Also inside: What Makes Yogurt Yogurt?

Shopping for Whole Grains by Jacquie Craig, MS, RD, LD, CDE

Chances are you’ve heard, over and over again, that choosing whole grains over processed grains is a healthful move. You may, however, be unsure how to apply this advice to your everyday shopping. This article describes what whole grains are, what they can do for you, and what to look for at the grocery store…


Steak or Potatoes? by Marie Spano, MS, RD, and Chad Kerksick, PhD, CSCS*D, ATC, NSCA-CPT*D

Popular diet books have long recommended limiting particular types of macronutrients — usually carbohydrate or fat — to bring about weight loss and improve overall health. Some have additionally encouraged an increased intake of protein, the third type of macronutrient in the human diet, for the same reasons. While not all popular diet books address diabetes, many suggest that their recommendations can help with blood glucose control as well as weight loss…

Also inside: Menu Comparison

The Nuts and Bolts of Dietary Iron Amy Campbell, MS, RD, LDN, CDE

Despite the many jokes about doctors and their love of golf, golf clubs aren’t the only “irons” physicians talk about. Although it’s in the headlines less often than protein, trans fat, or calcium, iron is more than just the metal in a golf club…

Also inside: Recommended Dietary Allowances for Iron, Food Sources of Iron

Tips And Tricks For Halloween by Diane Fennell

Halloween—the very word can send a shiver up the spines of children and parents alike, albeit for very different reasons. While the kids are probably looking forward to costumes and trick-or-treating, the parents are likely more concerned about…

Also inside: Halloween Treats

Top Tips for Healthier Eating by Julie Lichty Balay, MS, RD

It’s November — New Year’s is long gone, and most likely so is your resolution to eat right and lose a few pounds. If it makes you feel any better, you are not alone. It is estimated that 40% to 50% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, and losing weight is among the most popular, along with quitting smoking and exercising. Unfortunately, even the most favorable research on success rates of resolutions shows that by June, only 4 out of 10 people are still making good on their promises to themselves…


Trans Fat Begone! Julie Lichty Balay, M.S., R.D.

If you’ve read a newspaper in the past 40 years, you’re probably already aware that not all fat is created equal. There are three major categories of fat in the diet: unsaturated fat, saturated fat, and trans fat. Unsaturated fats are considered…


Treating Gastroparesis by Kathryn Feigenbaum, RN, MSN, CDE

Although the term gastroparesis may be new to some, the symptoms of this ailment, in which the stomach’s ability to move food into the small intestine is impaired, can be all too familiar, as up to 50% of people with diabetes will develop…

Also inside: Recipes for a Liquid Diet

Vitamin D by Julie Lichty Balay, MS, RD

What is your vitamin D level? Some day — maybe soon — having your vitamin D level measured may become as routine as having your cholesterol checked. According to some advocates of routine vitamin D testing, the results could prove to be a useful piece of medical information…

Also inside: "D" by the Numbers

What Really Determines What We Eat by Brian Wansink, PhD

Most of us believe that how much we eat is mainly determined by how hungry we are, how much we like the food, or what mood we are in at the time of eating or food selection. While we might acknowledge that others could be influenced by colorful food packages, special lighting, or the size of the plate, we all think we are too smart to be swayed by such gimmicks. But that’s where we’re wrong…


What You Should Know About Celiac Disease by Judy Giusti, MS, RD, LD, CDE

After years of living with Type 1 diabetes, you’re a pro at counting carbohydrates and adjusting insulin doses. Over the past year, however, your diabetes has become difficult to control. You’ve experienced weight loss, frequent bouts of diarrhea, and fatigue. You’ve also had fluctuating blood glucose levels — both hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia — and needed frequent insulin adjustments. You don’t know what’s wrong, and what’s worse, your doctor — make that doctors — can’t explain your symptoms, either. They’ve suggested everything from irritable bowel disease to depression, but nothing seems to help…

Also inside: For Further Reading and Information, National Support Groups, Select Manufacturers and Retailers of Gluten-Free Products, Carbohydrate Content of Selected Gluten-Free Foods

What’s to Drink? by Jacquie Craig, MS, RD, CDE

On a hot day, nothing quite hits the spot like a cold drink. But cold (and hot) beverages are not just enjoyable; they’re necessary for good health. Drinking adequate fluids in hot or cold weather keeps your body hydrated and running smoothly. When your body doesn’t have enough fluids, you can feel sluggish and irritable, get headaches, and have trouble controlling your blood glucose levels…

Also inside: Summer Sipping

White Foods by Matilde Parente, MD

People who care about nutrition — which includes many people with diabetes, and those who are trying to lose weight — are often on the lookout for rules to follow that might lead to better food habits. One of the more confusing pieces of dietary advice to emerge in recent years is to avoid white-colored foods…

Also inside: Which Whites?

Statements and opinions expressed on this Web site are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the publishers or advertisers. The information provided on this Web site should not be construed as medical instruction. Consult appropriate health-care professionals before taking action based on this information.

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Carbohydrate Restriction: An Option for Diabetes Management
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