You’ve recently been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Now here you are, standing frozen among the aisles of the grocery store, overwhelmed by the idea of sticking to a diabetes-friendly grocery shopping list.

The task of grocery shopping now seems complicated. Following strict guidelines for meals is confusing. And worst of all, the options feel restrictive and boring.

Don’t despair. In fact, it’s wise to avoid the ice cream aisle when you have diabetes, but the diabetes-friendly grocery shopping list is far less restrictive than you might imagine.

To make it easy, here’s a list of healthful foods that can help you shop and keep your diet on track.

Make a list

Now’s the time to get in the habit of making a list before you go to the grocery store. Not only will it help you plan your meals and avoid unhealthful foods, it can save your wallet too.

To get started, first write a menu for the week. Scour Pinterest for diabetes-friendly ideas; discover some new favorite foodie blogs. If cooking on a daily basis doesn’t work for you, try doubling recipes so that you have leftovers to rely on later in the week. You can also freeze excess food to have meals already prepped for later in the month.

Over time, cooking and shopping will become easier as you settle on your favorite recipes.

Also Read: Managing Diabetes – It’s Not Easy, but it’s Worth It

Diabetes-friendly grocery list

In general, managing diabetes means being mindful of carbohydrate intake, managing portion sizes, and choosing nutrient-packed foods.

Here’s a categorized list to help you make healthful choices at the grocery store.


Vegetables are the foundation of a healthful diet. They are nutrient-rich and low in carbohydrates. When planning your menu, devote half of your dinner plate to vegetables to help you feel full and satisfied. Plan to keep several raw vegetables in the fridge, too, for in-between snacking.

Non-starchy vegetables:

  • Kale
  • Mushrooms
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Salad greens
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Zucchini
  • Green beans

Starchy vegetables:

These are the vegetables that are higher in sugar, but that doesn’t mean you have to exclude them from your diabetes-friendly shopping list. Keep your portion sizes slightly smaller, or mix them together with other non-starchy choices.

  • Carrots
  • Corn
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Peas


Fruit, while sweet, has a high fiber content and can be a healthful way to satisfy a sweet tooth. Foods high in fiber mean the digestive track absorbs fewer carbohydrates than other low-fiber, high-carb foods. Keep your portion sizes to a half cup – less for dried fruit – and consider enjoying them together with a protein. For example, have a few slices of apple dipped in almond butter.

  • Berries
  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Bananas
  • Watermelon
  • Pears
  • Avocado
  • Tomatoes

Oils, dressings, and spreads

One of the most important things to consider when creating your diabetes-friendly grocery shopping list is to limit saturated fats. Here are a few healthier choices for oils, dressings, and spreads.

  • Canola oil
  • Peanut butter
  • Almond butter
  • Olive-oil based unsweetened dressing
  • Low sodium barbeque sauce
  • Low sodium soy sauce
  • Local honey
  • Olive oil
  • Olive oil spray
  • Olive-oil based mayonnaise (limit portion to a single serving)

Beans and legumes

Beans and legumes are excellent sources of protein and fiber.

  • Kidney beans
  • Pinto beans
  • Lentils
  • Black beans
  • Garbanzo beans

Meats, seafood, and eggs

  • Fatty fish, including trout, tuna, and salmon
  • Chicken
  • Turkey breast
  • Lean meat
  • Eggs (limit to 3-4 eggs weekly; or more if you eat egg whites only)

Whole grains

  • Bulgar wheat
  • Barley
  • Farro
  • Quinoa
  • Whole grain bread
  • Whole wheat pasta
  • Whole grain cereal (check the added sugar)
  • Oatmeal (consider swapping brown sugar and raisins for cinnamon and berries)


Watch for added sugars in dairy products, particularly yogurts. You could also consider trying some non-dairy alternatives, such as products made with almond or soy.

  • Yogurt (check the added sugar)
  • Low-fat milk
  • Low-fat cottage cheese
  • Low sodium cheese, like mozzarella

Snack foods

When you’re looking for on-the-go snack foods, pick vegetables and fruits when you can. Look for foods that say they’re whole grain, whole wheat, and high fiber. Truck to stick to snack items that have fewer than 8 grams of sugar per serving.

  • Nuts, such as almonds or almond butter
  • Vegetable sticks, like celery or carrots


You know you need to limit sugary foods when you have diabetes, but that doesn’t mean you can’t indulge your sweet tooth from time to time. Watch the sugar content and keep your portion sizes small.

  • 100-percent fruit popsicles
  • Ice cream sweetened with Stevia (or other low-calorie sweeteners)
  • Low sugar cookies
  • Consider muffin recipes that use unsweetened applesauce in place of sugar