Boost your brain health while promoting healthy blood sugars with this nutritious and delicious 7-day meal plan for diabetes.
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Lamb Gyros
Credit: Photographer / Jennifer Causey, Food Stylist / Karen Rankin, Prop Stylist / Christine Keely

In the United States, about 1 in 10 people are living with diabetes, and 1 in 9 people report experiencing cognitive decline (feeling that confusion or memory loss is happening more often). While these stats might be alarming, the good news is that there are steps we can take to improve both our cognitive health and our diabetes. Even better—there's surprisingly quite a bit of overlap in the recommendations for protecting your noggin and improving your blood sugar levels. The MIND diet, which is tailored to prevent and slow down cognitive decline, is essentially a blend of the ultra-healthy Mediterranean and DASH diets, with a special focus on brain-boosting foods, like berries, leafy greens, and healthy fats from nuts and fish. Similarly, the Mediterranean diet is often recommended for people with diabetes because it's high in nutrients, like fiber, which play an important role in stabilizing blood sugar levels.

In this plan, we include plenty of foods to boost your brain health while keeping in mind strategies to improve diabetes by focusing on high-fiber whole grains, moderate and consistent carbohydrate intake at each meal plus plenty of protein to stabilize blood sugar levels and keep you satiated. Because weight loss plays a role in improving blood sugars, we set this plan at 1,500 calories per day plus included modifications for 1,200 and 2,000 calories a day, depending on your needs.

Strategies for a Sharp Brain and Healthy Blood Sugars:

Foods to Focus on for Diabetes & Brain Health:

  • Fruits and vegetables, especially leafy greens, berries, beets and high-fiber produce, like pears and apples
  • Beans and lentils
  • Whole grains (bulgur, quinoa, freekeh, whole wheat, brown rice and more)
  • Fish, especially fatty fish like salmon, tuna and sardines
  • Nuts and natural nut butters made with just nuts and salt
  • Seeds (chia, pumpkin, flax)
  • Olives and olive oil
  • Avocado
  • Eggs
  • Lamb
  • Poultry
  • Unsweetened dairy products (plain yogurt and kefir)

How to Meal-Prep Your Week of Meals:

  1. Make Spinach & Strawberry Meal-Prep Salad to have for lunch on Days 2 through 5.
  2. Make Berry Chia Pudding to have for breakfast on Days 3 and 4.

Day 1

Sheet-Pan Chili-Lime Salmon with Potatoes & Peppers

Breakfast (403 calories, 25g carbohydrate)

A.M. Snack (228 calories, 19g carbohydrate)

  • ¼ cup unsalted roasted pumpkin seeds
  • 1 medium peach

Lunch (338 calories, 43g carbohydrate)

P.M. Snack (142 calories, 19g carbohydrate)

  • 1 cup low-fat plain kefir
  • ½ cup raspberries

Dinner (405 calories, 26g carbohydrate)

Daily Totals: 1,515 calories, 91g protein, 78g fat, 131g carbohydrate, 30g fiber, 1,647mg sodium

To make it 1,200 calories: Change A.M. snack to 1 kiwi and omit kefir at P.M. snack

To make it 2,000 calories: Add 30 unsalted dry-roasted almonds to P.M. snack, plus add 1 serving Guacamole Chopped Salad to dinner.

Day 2

Lamb Gyros
Credit: Photographer / Jennifer Causey, Food Stylist / Karen Rankin, Prop Stylist / Christine Keely

Breakfast (388 calories, 20g carbohydrate)

  • 1 cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup blackberries
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts

A.M. Snack (142 calories, 19g carbohydrate)

  • 1/2 cup edamame, in pods
  • 1 kiwi

Lunch (469 calories, 40g carbohydrate)

P.M. Snack (74 calories, 18g carbohydrate)

  • ½ cup raspberries
  • ½ cup blueberries

Dinner (441 calories, 30g carbohydrate)

Daily Totals: 1,514 calories, 92g protein, 75g fat, 127g carbohydrate, 30g fiber, 1,387mg sodium

To make it 1,200 calories: Omit walnuts at breakfast and omit edamame at A.M. snack.

To make it 2,000 calories: Add 2 Tbsp. natural peanut butter to the apple at breakfast, increase to 1 cup edamame in pods at A.M. snack, and add 1/4 cup unsalted roasted pumpkin seeds to P.M. snack.

Day 3

Cajun-Spiced Tofu Tostadas with Beet Crema
Credit: Photographer / Jacob Fox, Food styling / Sue Mitchell, Food Styling / Kelsey Bulat

Breakfast (343 calories, 39g carbohydrate)

A.M. Snack (140 calories, 20g carbohydrate)

  • 1 cup low-fat plain kefir
  • 1 plum

Lunch (469 calories, 40g carbohydrate)

P.M. Snack (116 calories, 4g carbohydrate)

  • 15 unsalted dry-roasted almonds

Dinner (432 calories, 41g carbohydrate)

Daily Totals: 1,499 calories, 70g protein, 77g fat, 144g carbohydrate, 37g fiber, 1,257mg sodium

To make it 1,200 calories: Omit kefir at A.M. snack and apple at lunch, and change P.M. snack to 1 plum.

To make it 2,000 calories: Add 15 dried walnut halves to A.M. snack, add 2 Tbsp. natural peanut butter to the apple at lunch, and add 1 serving Pineapple & Avocado Salad to dinner.

Day 4

Sheet-Pan Shrimp & Beets

Breakfast (343 calories, 39g carbohydrate)

A.M. Snack (169 calories, 4g carbohydrate)

  • ¼ cup unsalted roasted pumpkin seeds

Lunch (469 calories, 40g carbohydrate)

P.M. Snack (62 calories, 15g carbohydrate)

  • 1 medium orange

Dinner (432 calories, 44g carbohydrate)

Daily Totals: 1,475 calories, 85g protein, 68g fat, 143g carbohydrate, 38g fiber, 1,350mg sodium

To make it 1,200 calories: Change A.M. snack to 1 kiwi and omit quinoa at dinner.

To make it 2,000 calories: Add 1 cup low-fat plain kefir to breakfast, add 2 Tbsp. natural peanut butter to the apple at lunch, and add 1 serving Cucumber & Avocado Salad to dinner.

Day 5

Pesto Chicken Quinoa Bowls

Breakfast (388 calories, 20g carbohydrate)

  • 1 cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup blackberries
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts

A.M. Snack (92 calories, 3g carbohydrate)

  • 12 unsalted dry-roasted almonds

Lunch (469 calories, 40g carbohydrate)

P.M. Snack (48 calories, 11g carbohydrate)

  • 3/4 cup raspberries

Dinner (510 calories, 29g carbohydrate)

Meal-Prep Tip: Reserve 2 servings Pesto Chicken Quinoa Bowls to have for lunch on Days 6 and 7.

Daily Totals: 1,507 calories, 84g protein, 92g fat, 102g carbohydrate, 30g fiber, 1,545mg sodium

To make it 1,200 calories: Omit walnuts at breakfast, change A.M. snack to 1 plum, and change P.M. snack to 3/4 cup sliced cucumber.

To make it 2,000 calories: Increase to 30 almonds and add 1 large pear at A.M. snack, plus add 2 Tbsp. natural peanut butter to the apple at lunch.

Day 6

Vegan Walnut Tacos with Avocado Cream
Credit: Joy Howard

Breakfast (388 calories, 20g carbohydrate)

  • 1 cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup blackberries
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts

A.M. Snack (131 calories, 35g carbohydrate)

  • 1 large pear

Lunch (327 calories, 15g carbohydrate)

P.M. Snack (100 calories, 9g carbohydrate)

  • ½ cup edamame, in pods

Dinner (553 calories, 42g carbohydrate)

Daily Totals: 1,499 calories, 72g protein, 89g fat, 121g carbohydrate, 30g fiber, 1,204mg sodium

To make it 1,200 calories: Omit walnuts at breakfast and change A.M. snack to 1 kiwi.

To make it 2,000 calories: Add 20 unsalted dry-roasted almonds to A.M. snack, increase to 1 cup edamame in pods at P.M. snack, plus add 1 serving Guacamole Chopped Salad to dinner.

Day 7

Sheet-Pan Balsamic-Parmesan Roasted Chickpeas & Vegetables

Breakfast (403 calories, 25g carbohydrate)

A.M. Snack (208 calories, 19g carbohydrate)

  • 1 cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • ⅔ cup raspberries

Lunch (357 calories, 22g carbohydrate)

P.M. Snack (42 calories, 10g carbohydrate)

  • 1 kiwi

Dinner (514 calories, 38g carbohydrate)

Daily Totals: 1,524 calories, 77g protein, 89g fat, 113g carbohydrate, 29g fiber, 1,929mg sodium

To make it 1,200 calories: Change A.M. snack to 1/3 cup raspberries, and omit the salad at dinner.

To make it 2,000 calories: Add 1/4 cup unsalted dry-roasted almonds to A.M. snack, add 1/2 cup edamame in pods to P.M. snack, plus add 1/2 avocado, sliced, to the salad at dinner.