At the present time, our knowledge regarding the metabolic consequences of various dietary regimens is incomplete and in need of further research. In addition, the composition of a diet for diabetic persons that will result in the best blood glucose control is uncertain and controversial. Whether dietary changes can significantly delay or prevent the long-term complications of diabetes also is not known. Thus, the insistence that certain foods be avoided by the diabetic person or that a specific diet be adhered to rigidly cannot be defended scientifically. In view of the above limitations in our knowledge, perhaps the best approach should be to allow diabetic persons to select their own diet and daily meal plan, as long as the nutrient content is adequate. A diabetic person being treated with insulin or a hypoglycemic drug will have to comply with a dietary regimen consistent in carbohydrate content and time of meal ingestion. This continues to be of vital importance in the management plan. Nevertheless, an insulin or drug regimen usually can be designed to accommodate the individual's usual eating habits and food preferences. Such a flexible approach to diet management should lead to better patient compliance and overall management of the diabetic patient.