Meal Makeover

Every cuisine has both healthy and unhealthy selections. But even a slight change in cooking and portion size can help make a difference in managing your type 2 diabetes. Cutting fat is important, but so is choosing the right amount of carbs. Check out the meal makeover tips below.

Italian Food Guide
Asian Food Guide
Latin American Food Guide
American Food Guide
Second Helping of Food Tips

Italian Food Guide

Mamma mia! Pasta is full of carbs. What can you do? Actually, some small food substitutions and food prep changes can make a world of difference to your health—and waistline.

It's hard to pass up a good Italian dish. But when you're living with type 2 diabetes, it's important to think before you pile that pasta on your plate.

Pasta is a carbohydrate that can cause your blood sugar to rise. That's why it's a good idea to choose a pasta that's made of whole grains, like wheat. Also, consider portion size. A half-cup of cooked pasta is the recommended serving size for a person living with type 2 diabetes. You can mix in some vegetables to make it a heartier portion.

Ingredients to Love

  • Add spices like garlic, thyme or oregano to your dish for flavor and not a lot of calories.
  • Dress your salads and dip your bread in balsamic or red wine vinegar, which are low in calories and fat.
  • Or add some olive oil, which can actually lower your cholesterol. (But it's high in calories, so don't use too much!)
  • Toss non-starchy veggies like zucchini, bean sprouts and artichokes into your dish for a great low-cal, high-on-taste option.

Ingredients to Leave

  • Say no to butter. Save the unnecessary fat and calories.
  • Hold the cheese. Or at least just lightly sprinkle it on your dish.
  • Skip the creamy Alfredo and vodka sauces which are calorie heavy.

Deep-dish meat pizza

Meat has a great deal of grease and fat, and all that crust can add up to a lot of calories.

Thin-crust veggie pizza

Curb that pizza craving without overdoing the calories and fat.

Whole-Milk Mozzarella

Tasty but with lots of fat.

Parmesan or goat cheese

With their intense taste, it doesn't take much to flavor a dish with these two cheeses, so you can use less—and save on the calories


High in sugar, carbohydrates and calories.

Low-fat frozen yogurt

Satisfy your sweet tooth without the high levels of sugar. But keep the serving size to half a cup.

Eating at Home

Store-bought tomato sauces can be high in sugar and sodium. Try cooking with low-salt tomato sauce, or choose no-salt tomato sauce and add a pinch of salt after the meal is prepared for some extra flavor.

Dining Out

Ask for your salad dressing on the side and pour lightly—1 to 2 tablespoons is a good rule of thumb. Better yet, ask for oil or vinegar on the side, which is low in calories and fat. Also, when your meal arrives, divide it in half, and save one half for the doggie bag. That way you won't be tempted to overeat.


Portion control is a great way to help manage your type 2 diabetes! Click HERE to learn easy, memorable ways to create perfectly sized portions.

Asian Food Guide

Now you don't have to travel much farther than a mall food court to find delicious Japanese, Indian and Chinese cuisine. But some of their dishes may not be good for someone living with type 2 diabetes.

Avoid menu items with breaded, deep-fried meats, sugary sauces and carb-heavy rice and noodles. Instead, order steamed seafood dishes or stir-fried meat and vegetables with some brown rice. But it's the total amount of food that counts in the end. So watch how much you eat.

Ingredients to Love

  • White pepper, ginger, curry and dried hot chili turn up the taste buds without adding a lot of calories.
  • Chinese spinach, beans and broccoli are the perfect non-starch veggies that make a delicious part of Asian cuisine.
  • Low-sodium soy sauce is low in calories and carbs.

Ingredients to Leave

  • Meat, seafood or tofu covered in breading and deep-fried.
  • Regular sauces like soy, oyster and duck that are high in sodium.

Tempura vegetables

Deep-fried with high-fat oils.

Steamed vegetables

Low in fat and calories.

White Rice

Lacks a lot of nutrients and fiber to keep you full.

Long-grain brown rice

Long-grain brown rice offers more fiber!

Regular soy sauce

High sodium content which isn't good for your heart.

Low-sodium soy sauce

Gives you flavor without too much sodium.

Eating at Home

Instead of cooking with white rice, consider using brown rice which is a better source of fiber, vitamins and minerals. And when possible, avoid instant, precooked foods. Often they're high in sodium, calories, fat and carbs.

Dining Out

Asian sauces can be filled with sugar. Ask for lighter options, like chili sauce or low-sodium soy sauce. Or order the sauce on the side. Plus, try to avoid the deep-fried menu items. Ask your server for plain steamed rice instead of fried rice. It's a great, easy way to reduce the fat and calories.


Portion control is a great way to help manage your type 2 diabetes! Click HERE to learn easy, memorable ways to create perfectly sized portions.

Latin American Food Guide

Latin American foods, like Mexican, are a fiesta for your taste buds. All full of flavor—but in many cases, full of calories and bad fats.

Quesadillas and burritos are often made with a lot of cheese and meats. Plus, those tortillas and rice are full of carbs. But there are ways to satisfy your Latin food cravings without spiking your glucose levels—like order black beans instead of refried beans. And pile up the tomatoes and lettuce, but go light on the sour cream and guacamole.

Ingredients to Love

  • Spice up those Mexican dishes with healthy and flavorful cilantro, garlic, chili powder, and cumin.
  • Add low-cal veggies like palmitos, jicama, onions, peppers and tomatoes.

Ingredients to Leave

  • Fried plantains contain a high amount of oil, so serve it sparingly. Try baking your plantains instead.
  • Cook with grated and not sliced cheese. (You'll probably use less!)

Queso Dip

It's more fattening than other tasty Mexican dishes.


It's lower in calories and full of flavor. A serving of veggies in one tasty disguise!

Fried hard tortillas

Tasty but with lots of fat.

Whole-wheat soft tortillas

A great source of fiber. Serving size—one 6-inch tortilla.


Often fried in unhealthy oils.

Boiled Yucca

Served with garlic sauce, it's a comforting and healthier side dish.

Eating at Home

When preparing beans from a can, rinse them thoroughly to remove excess sodium. Plus go for non-fat sour cream and cheese. When adding cheese, grate it instead of using slices—chances are you'll use less!

Dining Out

Choose soft tacos, fajitas and other non-fried items from the menu. And watch out for that taco salad in the deep-fried, edible bowl that can have more than 1,000 calories! Chicken is a better choice than beef. And no matter what meat you decide on, always trim the fat.


Portion control is a great way to help manage your type 2 diabetes! Click HERE to learn easy, memorable ways to create perfectly sized portions.

American Food Guide

Often America's most beloved dishes are fried and full of fat and sugar—a tough reality, especially for those living with type 2 diabetes.

Big portion sizes are also an American favorite, but you can have your burger and eat it too, by keeping your portions to a minimum. Better still, opt for a salad over fries. Try a turkey burger instead of beef. Or maybe just start out by getting that burger without cheese.

Ingredients to Love

  • A little rosemary, basil or black pepper can spice up a meal without adding too many calories.
  • Asparagus, zucchini and broccoli are non-starchy veggies that are lower in calories but are still delicious. Drizzle veggies with a serving of olive oil or a few spices for a tasty side dish.
  • When choosing a meat dish, chicken is a great option. Baked or broiled, it's a tasty and satisfying main dish.

Ingredients to Leave

  • Cut back on bacon and ham—both are high in fat.
  • Creamy salad dressings, mayonnaise and honey mustard are full of fat.
  • Avoid regular soda, fruit punch, energy drinks and sweet tea. They can be high in calories and sugar.

Baked potatoes

High in starch and with fewer vitamins than other potatoes.

Sweet potatoes

They're filled with vitamin A and tasty enough that you don't need butter!

White bread

You'll miss out on a lot of vitamins, such as iron, B vitamins and magnesium you get from whole grain.

Whole-grain bread

Its extra fiber will keep you full longer.


Traditional eggs are high in cholesterol.

Egg substitutes

Same great “egg” taste and full of protein but without the high cholesterol, fat and calories.

Eating at Home

Consider baking or broiling meats instead of frying. Try baking with a little barbecue sauce or low-fat dressing. Plus, reduce the amount of sugar you use in a recipe by using half of the sugar and an artificial sweetener substitute.

Dining Out

Steer clear from anything on the menu that says “the works.” Double-stacked burgers and chili cheese fries add up to a lot of unnecessary fat and calories. Cheese alone carries an extra 100 calories per ounce, as well as added fat and sodium. Look for “low-fat” options on the menu whenever possible.


Portion control is a great way to help manage your type 2 diabetes! Click HERE to learn easy, memorable ways to create perfectly sized portions.

Second Helping of Food Tips

Eating healthy doesn't mean you have to eat boring, bland meals. You just have to make some smart substitutions and choose healthier foods. After a while, you might even like the lower-fat, healthier versions better.

  • Eat Less

  • White bread
  • Pretzels
  • Processed meats
  • Candy bars
  • Enjoy More

  • Whole wheat
  • Unbuttered popcorn
  • Fresh seafood
  • Greek-style yogurt

In general, the United States Department of Agriculture recommends building a healthy plate with this food group mix:

And here are some easy things you can do to eat healthier:

Keep track of calories

  • Enjoy your food, but eat less.
  • Avoid oversized portions.

Foods to increase

  • Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
  • Make at least half your grains whole grains.
  • Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.

Foods to Reduce

  • Avoid high-sodium foods like canned soup, breads, and frozen meals.
  • Steer clear of sugary drinks like regular soda, energy drinks and fruit juices.
ChooseMyPlate was created by the USDA. The USDA does not endorse any products, services, or organizations.

Plus, here are some of the best foods you can eat for each category:

  • Grains

    • Whole-wheat breads
    • Wild rice
    • Brown rice Oatmeal
  • Fruits

    • Fresh fruit
    • Canned fruit with fruit juice
    • Dried fruit like raisins and dates
  • Dairy

    • Fat-free or low-fat (1% milk)
    • Plain non-fat yogurt (regular or Greek yogurt)
    • Non-fat light yogurt (regular or Greek yogurt)
  • Protein

    • Skinless chicken
    • Beef trimmed of fat
    • Fresh fish and shellfish
    • Eggs

Making healthier food choices is a good way to help manage your type 2 diabetes. But you also have to be more active and take your medication every day. By doing all three things, you may be able to turn your blood sugar numbers around.

Visit our Recipe Section and Recipe Resources for healthy cooking ideas.


TRADJENTA is a prescription medicine that is used along with diet and exercise to lower blood sugar in adults with type 2 diabetes.

TRADJENTA is not for people with type 1 diabetes or for people with diabetic ketoacidosis (increased ketones in the blood or urine).

If you have had inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis) in the past, it is not known if you have a higher chance of getting pancreatitis while you take TRADJENTA.


What is the most important information I should know about TRADJENTA?

Serious side effects can happen to people taking TRADJENTA, including inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis), which may be severe and lead to death. Before you start taking TRADJENTA, tell your doctor if you have ever had pancreatitis, gallstones, a history of alcoholism, or high triglyceride levels.

Stop taking TRADJENTA and call your doctor right away if you have pain in your stomach area (abdomen) that is severe and will not go away. The pain may be felt going from your abdomen through to your back. The pain may happen with or without vomiting. These may be symptoms of pancreatitis.

Who should not take TRADJENTA?

Do not take TRADJENTA if you are allergic to linagliptin or any of the ingredients in TRADJENTA.

Symptoms of a serious allergic reaction to TRADJENTA may include rash, itching, flaking or peeling; raised red patches on your skin (hives); swelling of your face, lips, tongue and throat that may cause difficulty breathing or swallowing. If you have any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, stop taking TRADJENTA and call your doctor or go to the emergency room right away.

What should I tell my doctor before using TRADJENTA?

Tell your doctor about all your medical conditions, including if you have or have had inflammation of your pancreas (pancreatitis).

Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements. TRADJENTA may affect the way other medicines work, and other medicines may affect how TRADJENTA works. Especially tell your doctor if you take

  • other medicines that can lower your blood sugar. If you take TRADJENTA with another medicine that can cause low blood sugar, such as sulfonylurea or insulin, your risk of getting low blood sugar is higher. The dose of your sulfonylurea or insulin may need to be lowered while you take TRADJENTA.
  • rifampin (Rifadin®, Rimactane®, Rifater®, Rifamate®)*, an antibiotic that is used to treat tuberculosis.

Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant or are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed.

What are the possible side effects of TRADJENTA?

TRADJENTA may cause serious side effects, including

  • Inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis).
  • Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), especially if you take TRADJENTA with another medicine that can cause low blood sugar. Signs and symptoms of low blood sugar may include headache, drowsiness, weakness, dizziness, confusion, irritability, hunger, fast heartbeat, sweating, or feeling jittery.
  • Allergic (hypersensitivity) reactions can happen after your first dose or up to 3 months after starting TRADJENTA. Symptoms may include swelling of your face, lips, throat, and other areas on your skin; difficulty with swallowing or breathing; raised, red areas on your skin (hives); skin rash, itching, flaking, or peeling.

The most common side effects of TRADJENTA include stuffy or runny nose, sore throat, cough and diarrhea.

These are not all the possible side effects of TRADJENTA. For more information, ask your doctor or pharmacist. You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit or call 1-800-FDA-1088.


For more safety information, please see Medication Guide and full Prescribing Information.

*The brands listed are trademarks of their respective owners and are not trademarks of Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc. The makers of these brands are not affiliated with and do not endorse Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc., or its products.