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By Nora Saul, MS, RD, LDN, CDE

Manager, Nutrition Services
Joslin Diabetes Center
Boston, MA

Created: 09/22/2009
Last Updated: 07/20/2012

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Q: I was recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I've been told to follow a 1,500-calorie per day diet. What does a typical 1,500-calorie diet for a person with diabetes look like?

Typically, a 1,500-calorie diet is prescribed for weight loss. For someone with diabetes, the carbohydrates in the diet should be spread out over the day to avoid spikes in blood glucose (sugar) levels. Most of your carbohydrate selections should be those that are digested slowly—high-fiber foods, such as whole fruit, whole grain breads and cereals. Your fat choices should come from mono- and poly-unsaturated fats such as olive oil and nuts. How many servings of each category of food is in your meal plan will be based on the minimal requirements for a healthy diet, the amount of carbohydrate you can tolerate based on your blood glucose levels and your personal preferences. An example of such a diet is: six servings starch, two servings fruit, four servings fat, three servings vegetables, six servings protein and two servings milk. A sample menu based on this plan is:

  • Breakfast: 1/2 cup oatmeal, 1 slice bread with 1 teaspoon margarine, 1 small peach, 1 cup black coffee
  • Lunch: Turkey sandwich with 2 ounces turkey, 1 teaspoon mayonnaise, 2 slices tomato and lettuce; 1 cup 1% milk; 1 cup salad greens with shredded carrots and tomato, 1 tablespoon oil and vinegar; 1 cup flavored non-caloric water.
  • Snack: 1 cup berries
  • Dinner: 4 ounces grilled salmon with mustard, 2/3 cup brown rice with 1 tablespoon chopped almonds, 1 cup steamed broccoli with 1 teaspoon margarine
  • Snack: 1 light yogurt

There are many menus that would fit this pattern, and a meal plan should be individualized to the person who will be following it. My best advice would be to make an appointment with your health care provider or a registered dietitian and together come up with a meal plan you can follow for the long-term.