Diabetes and diet are two words typically synonymous with deprivation and sugar-free food. But having diabetes is about choice, consistency and quality of life; thus, you need to like your meal plan!

Have you put off starting a diabetes meal plan because you're afraid of counting carbs or afraid you'll have to sacrifice all your favorite foods? After reading this article, your newly created diabetes meal plan will be your most helpful tool — allowing you to eat any carbohydrate you want as long as it meets your allotted grams of carbohydrates for a particular meal.

Creating a meal plan that improves your quality of life while decreasing your diabetes symptoms is as easy as eating three meals and two snacks. The trick? You just have to make sure you're keeping carbs within an appropriate range on a daily basis.

General Guidelines to Determine Acceptable Carbs

Daily consumption should equal 45 to 60 grams of carbohydrates per each meal, and 15 to 30 grams of carbohydrates per each of your two planned snacks. Women typically choose 45 grams of carbs per meal and 15 carbs per snack; men typically need about 60 grams of carbs per meal and 15 to 30 carbs per snack.

Please keep in mind that this is purely an estimate, not a definitive rule. If you take insulin and or oral hypoglycemic agents be sure to get approval for dietary changes from your medical team. Your medications may need to be monitored and/or lowered.

What's Next?

Now, you have the basic outline for a solid diabetes friendly meal plan. Start to follow this meal plan by following the carbohydrate allowance guidelines and spacing your eating times approximately three hours apart.

Keep in mind that your carb choices— whether pasta, pancakes or any other carbs that you enjoy — should be eaten alongside leaner proteins like skinless chicken or fish and healthy fats like olive or canola oil. This means each meal should always have a carbohydrate, a protein and a fat.

Keep your meal size reasonable. This means, there are no free foods. This is not a pass to eat the other macronutrients, like protein and fat, in excess. Rather this meal plan is to simplify meal portioning while giving you freedom to eat all foods — even if it is a piece of cake or a cup of pasta.

Follow this simple plan for a few weeks until you feel ready to make more nourishing changes. If eating a consistent amount of carbohydrates throughout the day remains challenging, continue to try to do so for a few more weeks before making more lifestyle changes.