Diabetic Grocery List – A Reference for Diabetics

When you have diabetes, your diet is one of the best ways to control your blood sugar and avoid the disease progressing. This article on developing a diabetic grocery list will explain the best way to find foods that support your health and wellness and improve how you cope with the disease.

What to Look for in Diabetic Foods

There are certain “rules” to guide you in choosing foods at the grocery store.

Rule #1 – Read Labels for Nutritional Content

  1. Zoom in on the nutrition facts. Head right for the Total Carbohydrate level. This one category alone gives you so much information on any food.

Here’s an example on a bag of Roasted Cashews (Lightly Salted):

Total Carbohydrates 10g You want this number to be 15 g or less (ALWAYS).
Dietary Fiber less than 1g Fiber helps keep blood sugar levels low. You want this number to be 0 to 10 g. Not all foods
have fiber in them so 0 is okay for foods that are primarily fat. Foods that contain fiber are gems and treasures in your diet but you still have to evaluate everything else on the label.
Total Sugars 2g Total sugars includes the added sugar. You want this number to be <10 g (otherwise you have to eat
only ½ serving).
Includes 0g Added Sugars This is a very critical number. The American Heart Association recommends that women consume no more than 6 teaspoons added sugar daily and 9 teaspoons for men. One teaspoon sugar equals 4 g added sugar! So this means that you are going to find foods in your cabinet that make you exceed your daily allotted amount. Simply put, they must be purged from your cabinet.

By the way, these roasted cashews are looking excellent for a diabetic’s grocery list so far.

One example to consider is a serving of Cocoa Krispies cereal. Its total sugars is 24g and added sugars are 15g. This means that close to four teaspoons of sugar are added to one serving size of this cereal. If you’re female, you are only allowed 2 more teaspoons for the whole rest of the day.

Fruit Loops cereal has 12g total sugar and 12g added sugar (3 teaspoons). That means all the sugar in the cereal is straight from table sugar and none of it is from the natural sugar in fruit.

Carbohydrates and sugar content are the most important thing for diabetics to get right because diabetes is a disorder of carbohydrate metabolism. First the body can’t handle carbs, and then later it can’t handle fats.

  1. Next look at the fat section on the label. The numbers below are for cashews again.
Total Fat  14g 18% This number should preferably be <15 g for one food. In your diet, the total should be 20-25%. It’s okay to have some foods in your diet that are lower than 20%; you still need some fat each day.
Saturated Fat 2.5g 13% This number should be less than 10%.
Trans Fat 0g This number should always be 0. Trans fat is harmful to your health because it raises your LDL- cholesterol levels and lowers your HDL- (good) cholesterol. Eat high trans fat foods and you can expect to soon be put on cholesterol-lowering drugs.
Polyunsaturated Fat 2.5g This number should be 2.5 g or less. For fatty foods, you can expect it to be around 2.0-2.5g.
Monounsaturated Fat 6g Your total per day is 22 grams if you eat a 2000 calorie Diet. For 1500 calories, it’s 16.5 grams.

For this fat category, you’ll do well at scrutinizing foods if you make sure trans fat is 0 g and total fat is <20 g for a food.

  1. Next look at the protein level. Not all foods will have protein in them. But if the can of soup says “with real chicken” or “with added protein”, then the company better rise up to their claim and put enough in the food! Enough means 14-21g for a protein food; all other foods can have 0-12 grams. For example, you’ll find a little protein in most nuts and a lot more protein in beans.
Protein 5g For cashews, this amount of protein is good, but don’t call it a protein food. Nuts are a fat food – except for chestnuts (a carb food).

By the way, your total protein for the day — for most people —- is  60 grams (women) to 90 grams (men who are taller).

  1. The next thing to look at on the label is the calories level and serving size. For this category, you have to make a decision and ask yourself this question: Can I safely eat 1 serving size of this food – or two – and stop eating when done? If the answer is NO, the food is not for you. People who don’t ask themselves this question end up eating a whole bag of chips, nuts, snacks, etc.
Serving size ¼ cup cashews
Amount per serving Calories 170
Servings per container 15

From this information you can see that eating ½ bag of these cashews is going to be 1275 calories. That’s close to a full day’s worth of calories (1500, 1800 calorie diet) and it’s primarily fat calories, 85% fat diet for a 1500-calorie diet and 71% for an 1800 calorie diet. This would cause too many free radicals that age you and your arteries rapidly.

Now you have all the macros – protein, fat, and carbohydrates considered for the food. If you don’t get these right, nothing else matters. In other words, what difference does it make that something is low sodium if it’s super high in carbs? It makes no difference. So get the macros right.

Rule #2 – Understand that Some Foods FAIL Each and Every Time

This means that they will harm your health and do absolutely nothing to nourish your body and support your pancreas, heart, digestive tract, vision, and immunity.

Here are examples of foods that FAIL:

  • Foods high in sodium
    Foods with sodium that exceeds 300 mg per serving
    Too much sodium in the diet causes swelling and increases blood pressure. Diabetics are often prone to develop high blood pressure.
  1. Foods that contain sorbitol or Sucralose or aspartame
    These sugars have been known to harm the body, sometimes causing kidney problems. Diabetics are more prone to develop kidney problems so decide to help not hurt your own kidneys.
  1. Foods that contain canola oil
    Canola oil, also called rapeseed oil, is banned in other countries because it damages the heart. Diabetics are more prone to develop heart problems so stay clear of it.
  1. Foods that contain vegetable oil (soy, corn, cottonseed, safflower, sunflower)
    These oils are called seed oils and they turn rancid quickly and are high in omega 6 fats, not the helpful omega 3 fats. Both omega 6 and omega 3 fats are polyunsaturated fats.
    These oils also cause inflammation in the body.

There are other little details to consider about evaluating foods but if you follow all these ‘rules’, you will be doing well with your diet. For best results though, take some classes on how to eat a low glycemic index diet and you will go even farther.


10 Foods That Diabetics Should Avoid

These ten foods that diabetics should avoid are mostly foods with a high glycemic index. This means that as soon as the food is eaten, its sugars break down quickly and make your blood sugar levels skyrocket. And you know what that means, right?

It means that all that sugar is going to be deposited into all the places you don’t want it to go in your body, like the lens of your eyes to cause cataracts, the nerves in your legs and arms to cause peripheral neuropathy, and your heart and blood vessels to cause arteriosclerosis.

Stay away from these 10 foods:

Food Alternative Why it’s bad
Sweetened drinks Water with lemon or lime Sugars used harm the liver such as high fructose corn syrup, or cause kidney or other organ damage. High glycemic index. Too high in carbs.
Candies Fresh fruit or handful of nuts or protein food Sugars and fats used in them harm your internal organs. High glycemic index. Too high in carbs.
Cakes Gluten-free cake made without any ‘bad’ foods Harmful ingredients harm you. Too high in carbs. High glycemic index.
White rice, jasmine rice Brown basmati rice but only ½ serving High glycemic index. Too high in carbs. No fiber.
French fries and baked potatoes Boiled red potato, cold High glycemic index. Too high in carbs. May be too high in fat.
Packaged snacks like chips Relish tray with healthy dip High glycemic index. Too high in fat and salt.
Breaded foods Unbreaded foods High glycemic index. Too high in fat and artificial/bad ingredients.
Alcoholic drinks Herb teas and vegetable juices Lacks any nutrition at all. Is a source of fat to the body. Opens you up to cancer.
Wheat Non-wheat flours This GMO food is harmful to your body. High glycemic index. Too high in carbs.
Processed meats Unprocessed meats, fish, and poultry Processed meats contain advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs) which speed up health deterioration in all chronic diseases.

Good Foods for Diabetics

Good foods for diabetics are less processed foods. Healthy meats, poultry and fish are ones you cook yourself and don’t come breaded in a package. They may be frozen but a long list of ingredients has not been added to them.

Fruits and vegetables are another category of good foods for diabetics. These should be in their raw form or slightly cooked unless they are usually cooked (beans, legumes). The more they are processed, the more you are getting away from them being a good food for diabetics. For example, dehydrated fruits usually have sugar added and they have been heated for several hours. Their sugars (carbohydrates) are concentrated.

Nuts and seeds also follow the same guidelines as fruits and vegetables. They may be roasted but should not be candied. Raw peanuts are not a good food because they may contain anti-thyroid ingredients.

Dairy products are controversial for many people. In my practice, I allow A2 milk, milk made from cows that do not have a mutation in the casein protein in the milk. A2 milk is from Jersey cows and other non-Holstein cows that don’t have the mutation.

The controversy about pasteurization is out there as well. To solve the question for yourself on whether you should drink milk that is pasteurized or not, ask yourself two questions:

  1. Do I have a problem digesting lactose? If the answer is yes, then milk is not for you.
  2. Does consumption of milk cause my blood sugar levels to spike? You will only know the answer to this after you test your blood sugar level one hour after drinking a glass of milk. If the answer is yes, milk is not a healthy food for you.

Fats are another controversial topic. Should you eat saturated fats such as butter? Some experts believe that butter is not harmful in any way; it’s the seed oils that are the most harmful. Discuss this with your nutritionist who understands your individual situation.

Diabetic Grocery List


Apples Blueberries Bananas Oranges
Dragon fruit Pineapple Strawberries Mango
Cherries Lychee fruit Pomegranate Raspberries
Melons Figs Guava Peaches
Plums/prunes Apricots Kiwi Persimmons
Asian pear Blackberries Grapefruit Grapes
Avocado Lemons Limes Coconut
Pears Passion fruit Papaya Clementines
Cranberries Loquat Kumquat Prickly pear
Mulberries Plantain Rhubarb Soursop



Celery Green beans Jicama Spinach Sweet Peppers
Celeriac Cauliflower Broccoli Beet Bok choy
Cabbage Acorn squash Chard Eggplant Dandelion greens
Purslane Spaghetti squash Green pepper Cucumber Head lettuce
Carrot Patti pan squash Red pepper Asparagus Red leaf lettuce
Pumpkin Zucchini squash Yellow pepper Garlic Romaine lettuce
Potato Sweet potato Orange pepper Tomato Beetroot
Radish Brussels sprouts Turnips Parsley Coriander
Basil Dill Rosemary Oregano Wasabi
Peppermint Mustard greens Okra Sorrel Cilantro
Fennel Kohlrabi Green onions Onion Arugula
Horseradish Cholla buds Taro root Cactus pads Bamboo shoot
Chives Ginger Kale Olives Water chestnuts
Rutabaga Lambs quarters Mint Chili peppers Mushrooms
Leeks Artichokes Tiger nuts


Beans and Legumes

Chickpeas (garbanzos) Peanuts
Black beans Lima beans
Black-eyed peas Navy beans
Green peas Kidney beans
Lentils Soy beans
Edamame beans Cannellini beans
Fava beans Red beans
Mung beans Cranberry beans
Tepary beans Pinto beans
Adzuki beans Anasazi beans
Baru nuts

Meats, Seafood, Eggs

Beef, pork, buffalo/bison, lamb – stay away from the fattiest cuts like ribs, processed meats, bacon, and sausage

Poultry (chicken, turkey, Cornish hens)

Fish & Seafood  – cod, flounder, haddock, shrimp, crab, lobster, scallops, trout, halibut, tuna, salmon


Whole Grains

Einkorn wheat Emmer wheat
Barley White corn
Blue corn Amaranth
Buckwheat Teff
Sorghum Millet
Quinoa Rye
Spelt Wild rice
Brown rice Oats


A2 Milk Lactose-free milk
Goat milk Plain yogurt
Sour cream Heavy cream
Kefir milk Cottage cheese
Grass-fed dairy Cheese with <5 g fat/ounce

Oils, Dressings, Etc.

Some items on this list come in reduced fat versions, which is a good choice.

Coconut oil Butter Ghee
Olive oil Cashew nuts Almonds
Walnuts Pine nuts Chia seeds
Sunflower seeds Sesame seeds Brazil nuts
Pecans Pistachios Macadamia nuts
Hazelnuts Pumpkin seeds Flax seeds
Pomegranate seeds Kola nuts Poppy seeds
Hemp seeds Chestnuts Coconuts
Maracona almonds Cacao Chocolate
Caraway seeds Fennel seeds mayonnaise
Oil & Vinegar dressing Whipped topping



Carob hot chocolate Coconut water
Fruit yogurt smoothie Veggies with hummus
Hard-boiled eggs Beef sticks
Roasted chickpeas Cottage cheese
Popcorn Bean salad
Trail mix Protein bar
Peanut butter celery sticks


Dark chocolate dipped strawberries
No-chocolate candies
Frozen yogurt bark
Peanut butter yogurt dip
Yogurt berry cup
Nut butter on cracker
Grilled pineapple skewers
Soft serve made from fruit
Keto ice creams
Baked apple chips
Paleo ice creams


Diabetic Grocery List on a Budget

Diabetic eating is actually more economical than a standard American diet. That’s because eating processed foods is actually more expensive than buying the foods in their original or close to their original state and making a meal from them yourself.

Stick to the basics when you are going shopping – meats, poultry, fish, fruits, vegetables, tomato sauce, beans, nuts, chocolate powder (to make your own sugar-free chocolate sauces), yogurt, hummus, eggs, and some grain products. As you get better at creating wonderful meal concoctions, you’ll see that you can easily outdo 5-star restaurants in flavor (and cost) by cooking from scratch.

What Foods Are Unlimited

Foods to eat freely include:

Garlic Salad greens
Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, cabbage) Carob powder
Vinegar Lemon juice
Horseradish Relish tray vegetables
Spices Monk fruit
Stevia sweetener Unsweetened cocoa powder
Club soda Water
Hot pepper sauce Bone broth
Herbs Coffee
Sugar free gelatin Flavored water

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