Living with diabetes can be a challenge, especially when it comes to choosing the right foods. Whether you are out with friends or snuggling up for a date night on the couch, you are always worried about what to eat and if it fits into your strict plan.

“Dinner food choices affect morning blood sugars,” says Laura Cipullo, who is both a Registered Dietitian and a Certified Diabetes Educator. “Many individuals notice a high morning blood glucose after a night of high on grams of carbohydrate. Think pasta and dessert at the same meal.”

According to the American Diabetes Association, just because you are diabetic doesn’t mean you have to eat “special diabetic foods.” In fact, diabetic and “dietetic” foods are often over-priced and relatively offer no special benefit. Those living with diabetes can even indulge in starches and sweets, the key is to know your limits.

“You don’t need to avoid anything rather you need to eat small portions of your favorite carbs throughout the day,” confirms Cipullo. “Mixing meals with wholesome carbohydrates like quinoa and even lentils with lean proteins are healthy fats is the way to go.”

But to make sure you are living your best dietary life, there are definitely some foods that should be making a regular appearance during meal time. Certain foods, like chicken and tomatoes, can help you slowly break down food without affecting your blood sugar. Of course, you should always take precautions when it comes to your own personal sugar levels.

“Always be sure to test your blood sugar at fasting pre meal and then two hours after to see how your body tolerated a food,” advises Cipullo. “Take into consideration hydration and exercise.”

To help you manage your diabetes, Cipullo recommends includes a few helpful foods during dinner time so you can enjoy life’s sweeter indulgences without worry.

A lean protein low in calories, versatile and if eaten with a carb, will serve to slow your body’s breakdown of the meal.

This is a low glycemic food so diabetes friendly. Lentils are full of fiber, vegetarian, inexpensive and despite being a carb, typically diabetes friendly.

Tuna and Salmon
I love chunk light canned tuna and wild salmon for their omega three fatty acids known as DHA. These essential omegas have been studied and are associated with decreasing depression as well as inflammation.

Not only is broccoli high in antioxidants to prevent damage from inflammation associated with diabetes, but you need to eat three cups of it to equal 15 grams of carb.

Sweet Potatoes
Even baked potatoes are starchy vegetable. Choose these when you want a large volume of food but not an excessive amount of carbs. You could have 1.5 cups of sweet potato instead of 1 cup cooked whole wheat pasta.

Dried Beans
Beans are considered both a carbohydrate and a protein. Being high in soluble fiber makes them a filling food while also being heart healthy.

Tomatoes are great for adding flavor, color and phytonutrients without affecting your blood sugar. 1.5 cups of Cherry tomatoes with a cheese stick make a great low carb snack.

Known as the ‘super grain,’ quinoa is a higher protein grain. This grain is especially helpful for vegetarians who have diabetes and are trying to meet their nutrition needs without spiking their blood sugar.