The thing about a diabetic diet that I don't think most people get is that you don't have to eat special foods or be excluded from what "everyone else" is eating (including dessert). In fact, the diet guidelines for people with diabetes are the same as those for all of us. For the most part, eating to manage diabetes means eating with your eyes open-knowing what's going into your body and when. So, truth be told, if you have diabetes, everyone else should be taking a cue from what's on your plate.

Here are 5 things we can all learn from a diabetic diet:

  1. No food is a magic bullet or forbidden fruit. It's all about moderation. Find healthy, delicious dessert recipes like Chocolate-Fudge Pudding Cake (they're surprisingly diabetes-friendly too!)

  2. Variety and sensible portions are key. That said, it's no fun to whip out a measuring cup every time you eat. To dish up a meal that's just the right size, try this trick: Divide your dinner plate in half with your eyes. Fill one half with vegetables, and split the other half into two quarters. Fill one quarter with a lean protein, such as fish, skinless poultry, beans or tofu. Fill the other quarter with a grain- or starch-based side dish, preferably a whole-grain food like brown rice, whole-wheat pasta or a slice of whole-grain bread.
    Find 30+ healthy whole-grains recipes here.

  3. Whole foods trump processed foods. Not all processed foods are bad, but, in general, eating whole foods will help you to keep track of exactly what's going into your body.How often are you eating these 6 healthy-sounding foods that aren't?

  4. Keep food tasty and healthy with unsaturated "good fats". Saturated and trans fats are so-called "unhealthy" fats, and are linked with increased risk of heart disease. So season dishes with moderate amounts of olive oil and the other sources "good fats." At the same time, keep a watchful eye on and limit saturated fat and trans fats.
    Cut back on saturated fat with these 5 fast fat swaps.

  5. Embrace plant foods, along with low-fat dairy, fish, lean meats and poultry. Not only are these foods low in "unhealthy" saturated fats, but they're packed with healthy nutrients. Think fiber in plant foods, calcium in dairy and omega-3s in fish.