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Clean Eating for the Win!

Many people may think that decreasing carbohydrates and switching to artificial sweeteners is the way to a healthy diabetes diet. While those changes can be beneficial there are more ways to increase your health and energy levels. A new diet trend for people with type 2 diabetes, and people in general, is clean eating. No, this does not mean that you wash your food before you eat it! Instead it is a diet that focuses on minimally processed foods, and plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.

What does clean eating mean?

A good way to look at clean eating is to “eat as close to the farm as possible.” That means that the way something comes out of the ground is the way we should try to consume it. Choose fresh fruits and vegetables instead of canned whenever possible to eliminate the excess sodium and keep as many of the natural nutrients of the crop to give your body all the benefits. Frozen vegetables or fruits that have no added sauce, sugar, or salt are still good options as they are usually picked at their peak of freshness and are very minimally processed so do not lose their essential nutrients.

What about meat?

Keeping meat intake to chicken and turkey raised without antibiotics, or grass-fed beef are good options. Fish such as salmon should be wild-caught when possible as they have a more natural diet than farm-raised fish. Eating vegetarian meals three times per week is a good goal, and a great way to eat clean. Then these minimally processed meats in between are a great addition to any vegetable side.

How about the carbohydrates?

Choosing complex, whole grains is a great way to eat close to the farm. Brown rice, quinoa, farro and wheat berries are just a few of the great grains that can be a delicious part of a diabetic diet. They are full of fiber and protein to promote satiety. It is also ideal to avoid highly processed starches such as white rice and enriched pasta that do not contain these high levels of fiber and protein. Processed snacks such as crackers and chips are also not ideal. Breads should be whole grain with the first ingredient listed being “whole grain wheat flour.”

Clean eating meal ideas

Here is an example of a day of clean eating for someone with diabetes:


Two scrambled eggs, ½ cup shredded cheese, 1 cup sautéed mushrooms, tomatoes, and asparagus.


A large salad with 2 cups fresh spinach, ½ cup baby carrots, ½ cup cucumber, topped with ¼ cup of your favorite cooked beans such as black beans or red kidney beans for some protein, fiber, texture and flavor, and ¼ cup cooked brown rice. Try making some of your own salad dressing with apple cider vinegar, olive oil, and spices of your choice.


A vegetable grain bowl with ½ to 1 cup of cooked quinoa, 1 cup of spinach, ½ cup roasted vegetables such as broccoli and red bell peppers, topped with a grilled chicken breast.


¼ cup unflavored almonds or 2 celery stalks with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Shelley, TheLongPointGirl moderator
    4 months ago

    Thank you for defining clean eating and giving examples! Finally I understand what that means AND my husband and I are closer to eating that way than I thought. I had read a couple different definitions but none of them seemed reasonable for us, actually restrictive. It’s nice to know we’re on the right path. Woo hoo!

  • Katie Gutwald, RD moderator author
    4 months ago

    Yay for you guys!! So glad it helped to clarify things! Sincerely, Katie Gutwald RD community moderator

  • Thomas A McAtee Jr. moderator
    4 months ago

    Good article. I’ve never heard of wheat berries before. I love sauteed vegetables such as summer squash and zucchini but never have tried to do anything like that myself. What type oils are used to do that with?

    I also like grilled tilapia.

  • Katie Gutwald, RD moderator author
    4 months ago

    That’s great! Olive oil is a great option as well as avocado oil. Check out some of these other articles with info on oils and healthy fats!
    As always, thanks for reading!
    Katie Gutwald RD community moderator

  • Thomas A McAtee Jr. moderator
    4 months ago

    Will have to try that out and look for some recipes on how to go about it. A friend and I at times will go to Denny’s and he’ll get the steamed and I go for the sauteed ones instead. Just love the taste better than the steamed.

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