Healthy Swaps for Eating on a Diabetic Diet Eat This, Not That Ideas for Common Foods By Stacey Hugues| Reviewed by a board-certified physician Updated November 10, 2016

It’s hard to cut foods out of your diet. But when you know what to eat instead, it’s easier to make dietary changes.

These “eat this, not that” ideas will help to create a balanced approach to meals that incorporates more healthy whole foods and fewer additives. Decreasing your intake of unhealthy ingredients could also decrease your risk of developing obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Instead of Processed and Pre-Packaged Foods
Directly Above View Of Chopped Food On Cutting Board
Banu Patel / EyeEm/Getty

Eat more homemade meals and less processed snack foods.

Processed, prepared, and pre-packaged food is often chockful of sodium, added sugars and fat and the quality is usually inferior to food that you make. When you cook for yourself, you can control exactly what goes into the food you eat.

Start off with whole, unprocessed ingredients (such as colorful fruits and vegetables, beans, and lean meats, whole grains and healthy fats), and then make yummy, balanced meals.

Instead of White Breads, Refined Pasta, Rice and Crackers
 Slicing bread for breakfast. VisitBritain/James McCormick/Getty Images

Eat more whole grains and whole-grain breads, pasta, and crackers.

Refined grains, such as white flour, have been stripped of the bran and germ — the two healthiest parts of a grain. The bran delivers fiber, while the germ has some vitamins.

Whole grains, on the other hand, keep the entire grain intact. Because they have more fiber, they take longer for your body to digest and can help keep your blood sugar in check.

Instead of Cookies, Candy, and Chips
 Assorted whole nuts in sack. Maximilian Stock Ltd./Getty Images

Snack on nuts, seeds, whole grain crackers, fruits, and vegetables, paired with protein.

Cookies, candies, ​and chips are tempting and convenient, but they provide empty calories and carbohydrates that your body doesn’t need (plus, they rarely satisfy hunger). Instead, snack on healthy carbohydrates plus protein. For example, whole grain crackers with string cheese or an apple with peanut butter.

Instead of Fried Foods
 Grilled meats and vegetables. Brian Leatart/Getty Images

Eat foods cooked lightly with healthy fats.

Deep fried foods are super high in calories and fat. Whether you’re cooking at home or you’re eating out, choose items that have been sautéed, broiled, grilled or baked. That way, you’ll be sure to keep added fat and calories in check.

Instead of Highly Processed Meats
Grilled Halibut with Spinach, leeks and Pine Nuts

Eat fresh lean meat, fish, and other healthy proteins.

Processed meats, such as sausage, lunch meats, and bacon are typically very high in sodium and may be high in saturated fat. Opt instead for leaner proteins, such as cuts of meat that have been trimmed of fat, skinless poultry, and fish. Also consider vegetarian protein sources, such as beans and tofu.

Instead of Canned Foods with Added Sodium and Sugar
 Woman holding basket with vegetables in farm shop. Betsie Van der Meer/Getty Images

Eat foods with no added salt and no added sugar.

When you’re buying processed foods, such as canned beans or fruit, look for items that say no added salt or (in the case of canned fruit) “canned in fruit juice.”

Even better, buy fruits and vegetables fresh or frozen. That way, you can be sure you’re not getting extra sodium or added sugars.

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