Healthy Tips from People with Diabetes

Tried and true advice for everyday diabetes management

Lara Rondinelli By Lara Rondinelli, RD, LDN, CDE

One of the things I love most about teaching group diabetes education classes is that the atmosphere is ripe for sharing information. When people who are living with diabetes gather together, it creates the perfect opportunity for them to bounce ideas off of each other. Everyone is living in the real world and learning what works for them — it's great to hear their personal healthy eating and living tips. Here are some of the tips that they have shared:

  • Incorporating veggies. To ensure she eats enough vegetables during the work week, one woman grills or roasts large quantities of vegetables on the weekends. She cooks green peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, broccoli, and onions. She then uses the veggies in various recipes and dishes during the week.
  • Rice advice. Rice is a staple food in many ethnic cuisines — unfortunately it is also a high-glycemic grain with over 50g of carbs per cooked cup. One person was having a hard time reducing rice in his diet, as it was a staple in most of his meals. He decided to substitute barley or quinoa for HALF of his rice and has kept his portion to 1 cup combined. His blood sugars are now well controlled thanks to diet changes, oral medication, and walking (his A1C was 14 at diagnosis!).
  • Solution to a protein problem. For most people, eating more protein can help with weight loss and glycemic control. To boost her protein intake on busy days, one woman started buying cooked rotisserie chicken at the grocery store and making salads, tacos, and soup with the chicken. She also incorporated quick, high-protein choices like canned tuna, cottage cheese, and hard-boiled eggs into her diet.
  • Pasta swap. Many people love pasta, but one cup of cooked spaghetti contains 43g of carbs. One woman shared how she substitutes spaghetti squash for pasta, cutting the carb count down to 4.7g. She serves it up with chicken, vegetables, and tomato sauce for a complete, diabetes friendly meal.
  • Surviving the breakfast rush. Most of our mornings consist of rushing to get out the door for work, making it tough to make healthy breakfast choices. One man in the group said he had absolutely no time for breakfast at home. He shared that he now brings a piece of fruit with him on the go. He has also traded his usual Sausage Biscuit for the Egg White Turkey Sausage Wrap at Dunkin Donuts, saving himself almost 50g of carbs.

    Another woman shared her quick breakfast recipe for a yogurt parfait: ½ cup plain Greek yogurt, 1 teaspoon sugar-free strawberry jelly, 1 cup strawberries and blueberries and 2 tablespoons almonds. This recipe has 26g of carbs and 7.5g of fiber.
  • Squeeze in some exercise. A busy schedule often means little time for exercise. One group member shared that she started a walking club at work during the lunch hour. During the warmer months they walk outside and in the colder months they stay inside the building, taking the stairs up each floor and walking around.
  • Asking for help. A man with diabetes told the group that he had recently been taking care of his sick mother. During this time he was not managing his own diabetes well — he wasn't eating healthfully, checking his blood sugar regularly, or exercising. After a trip to his doctor, he realized he needed to take time to care for himself too. Another woman in the group could relate — she was taking care of her sick, elderly husband. Both of these people asked their friends and family to help with their caretaking responsibilities. Doing this took some of the pressure off and allowed them the time to focus on their diabetes too.
  • dFriendly snacks. Patients often share some of their favorite, low carb snack ideas during our classes. Here are some common ones: a handful of almonds (4g carbs), cottage cheese (4g carbs), string cheese (less than 1g carb), popcorn (12g in 2 cups), and a hard-boiled egg (less than 1g carb).
  • Pizza swap. If you tend to crave pizza, you're not alone. This high carb favorite can be hard to resist. One man shared how he makes homemade, low carb pizza using portabella mushrooms as the crust. He tops it with sauce, veggies, and cheese. He can't believe how great it tasted.

Here is a delicious recipe for Roasted Asparagus sprinkled with Parmesan cheese. The perfect low carb side dish for a summer night.

Read Lara's bio here.

Read more of Lara Rondinelli's columns.

NOTE: This information is not intended to be a replacement or substitute for consultation with a qualified medical professional or for professional medical advice related to diabetes or another medical condition. Please contact your physician or medical professional with any questions and concerns about your medical condition.

Last Modified Date: January 27, 2014

All content on is created and reviewed in compliance with our editorial policy.

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by Brenda Bell
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