Part VIII – Diabetic Diet: Sugar and Salt

Tips for Reducing Sugar

  • Avoid sodas and juice drinks.
  • Sweeten your own iced tea, yogurt or oatmeal with low-sugar alternatives instead of buying them pre-sweetened.
  • Reduce the amount of sugar in recipes by at least a third. The addition of cinnamon, nutmeg or vanilla can enhance sweetness.
  • Reduce the amount of ice cream intake—try making a smoothie that includes frozen bananas (freeze peeled fruit in one layer in a plastic bag) for a delicious healthy treat with the consistency of soft-serve ice cream.
  • Replace milk chocolate with a small piece of dark chocolate. This can satisfy cravings while contributing much less sugar than milk chocolate and you’ll be less likely to over eat the bittersweet bar.

Watch Out for Salt

It’s important for everyone to restrict sodium, but diabetics should limit sodium to less than 1,500 mg daily. Processed foods constitute the largest contributor of sodium to the American diet so taking care to avoid canned food, frozen entrees, boxed foods, baked goods, fast food and convenience foods can go a long way in reducing salt intake.

Read all Labels

It’s very important to be a label reader as many products contain alarming amounts of fat and sugar. Avoid any products that list more than five grams of sugar per serving and always check the serving size as it’s frequently unrealistically small.

Glycemic Index

The glycemic index helps determine which carbohydrate-containing foods raise blood glucose levels more or less quickly after consumption. A low index number indicates a lower impact on blood sugar. Many foods with low glycemic scores are also high in fiber.


Whether you need to control your diabetes or want to reduce your risk for this increasingly prevalent disease, the way to avoid or reduce medication involves a healthy diet, effective weight management, and a lifestyle that includes exercise and avoids smoking. If you’ve already been diagnosed with type 2, a vegan diet has the strongest evidence for reversal. It can take a little time to learn and adjust to a radically new way of eating, but it’s encouraging to know that the vegan diet can be absolutely delicious, full of variety and nutritionally complete.

Whatever your situation, ask the Haven Hospice Registered Dietitian Verna Groger for help. She will be more than happy to provide resources to aid you in reducing your risk and improving your health.

Click here for a list of sources.