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Tips for Teens with Diabetes: Make Healthy Food Choices

Learn about food and how to make healthy food choices

To keep your blood glucose (GLOO-kos), or blood sugar, and your weight in a healthy range, focus on:

  • When you eat
  • What you eat
  • How much you eat

When should I eat?

Spread your food out over the day. Eat breakfast, lunch, dinner and one or two snacks each day. Try to eat at the same time each day.

What should I eat?

You do not need special foods. Foods that are good for you are also good for your family and friends. Make your food choices healthy.

Carbohydrates are a source of energy in many foods. Choose:

  • Fruits, vegetables, low-fat or fat-free milk and yogurt
  • Whole grains like oatmeal, brown rice, and whole wheat bread, tortillas, and cereal

Protein is important for growth and your overall health. Choose:

  • Beans, peas, lentils, low-fat cheese, and soy products
  • Fish, chicken and turkey without skin, lean meat, and eggs

Eat small amounts of healthy fats.

  • Use oil, such as canola or olive oil, or tub margarine instead of butter or stick margarine.
  • Eat foods with healthy fats such as nuts, olives, avocado, and fatty fish like salmon and tuna.

Drink water instead of sugary drinks such as soda, sport drinks, and fruit juice.

Eat foods that have been baked, broiled, or grilled instead of fried.

For desserts, have a small serving at the end of a healthy meal… but not every day.

A healthy mealHow much should I eat?

Try filling your plate like this:

  • Try to get to and stay at a healthy weight.
  • Eat smaller portions and do not have second helpings.
  • Still hungry after a meal? Have a piece of fruit or a salad with low-fat dressing.

Learn to eat the right amount at meal and snack times.

A person playing soccerEvery day be sure to:

  • Eat breakfast, lunch, dinner, and one or two snacks.
  • Eat meals with your family – turn the TV off!
  • Drink water when you are thirsty.
  • Be active for 60 minutes or more.
  • Take your medicines at the correct time.
  • Check your blood glucose at planned times.
  • Keep TV, computer, tablet, and smartphone time to 2 hours of free time or less.

Ask your doctor or dietitian about making a meal plan just for you.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) is jointly sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) with the support of more than 200 partner organizations.

This information is not copyrighted. The NIDDK encourages people to share this content freely.


April 2014

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