The Simple Guide to Free Foods for People With Diabetes

If you're managing diabetes and confused about free foods, this guide will clear things up.

When you have diabetes, it’s important to understand the nutritional value of every food you eat. And some foods are so low in calories and carbs that they’re considered “free” foods. Here’s everything you need to know about this selective group.

By the way, you should be following these rules to keep your blood sugar steady.

What Are Free Foods for People With Diabetes?

Simply put, free foods for people with diabetes is any food or drink that contains less than 20 calories or less than 5 grams of carbohydrate per serving. These minimal foods don’t need to be counted in the exchange system—you can learn more about the diabetic exchange list here—but there are still a few restrictions. For example, people with diabetes should not eat more than three free foods a day, and they should spread them out to avoid spiking blood sugar levels.

Diabetic Free Foods List:

Here are some examples of free foods for people with diabetes, as outlined by a committee of the American Diabetes Association and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. You can view the entire list here.

  • Carbonated water
  • 1 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Coffee or tea
  • 1 cup raw cabbage
  • Hard, sugar-free candy
  • 1 cup raw cucumber
  • 2 Tbsp. whipped topping
  • 1 cup raw salad greens and lettuce
  • Sugar-free gum

Next, learn about the worst eating habits for anyone with diabetes.

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Katie Bandurski
Katie is an Assistant Editor for Taste of Home, specializing in writing and email newsletters. When she’s out of the office, you’ll find her exploring Wisconsin, trying out new vegetarian recipes and combing through antique shops.