Groups in a food guide for diabetes

When you have diabetes, it is important to limit and spread the amount of carbohydrate you eat evenly throughout the day. A food guide for diabetes is slightly different from the MyPyramid guide for people who do not have diabetes. A few vegetables, such as potatoes and corn, are listed with the bread, cereal, rice, and pasta group because they contain more carbohydrate than other vegetables. Cheese is not in the milk group, because the process of turning milk into cheese removes the carbohydrate.

The six food groups are listed below with examples. The amount of food that counts as 1 serving is also listed. If you eat a larger portion, count it as more than 1 serving.

Talk to your registered dietitian or your certified diabetes educator about how many servings from each group that you need in a day. Everybody is different. Some people may need more servings from one group than another.

Breads, cereal, rice, pasta, and starchy vegetables
Servings Examples*

Talk to your registered dietitian or your certified diabetes educator about how many servings from this group that you need in a day.

  • 1 slice of bread (1 oz)
  • 1 small (6-inch) tortilla
  • 1 oz of ready-to-eat cereal (Check the box label for the amount equal to 1 oz.)
  • ½ cup of cooked cereal
  • 1/3 cup of pasta, rice, or other cooked grain
  • 1/4 cup of cooked dry beans, lentils, or split peas
  • ½ cup of corn or peas
  • 1 small potato (3 oz)
  • ½ cup of sweet potato or yam
  • 1 cup of winter squash

*Each serving contains about 15 grams (g) of carbohydrate.

Vegetables
Servings Examples*

Talk to your registered dietitian or your certified diabetes educator about how many servings from this group that you need in a day.

  • 1 cup of raw leafy vegetables
  • ½ cup of other vegetables, cooked or chopped raw
  • ½ cup of vegetable juice

*Each serving contains about 5 grams (g) of carbohydrate.

Fruits
Servings Examples*

Talk to your registered dietitian or your certified diabetes educator about how many servings from this group that you need in a day.

  • 1 small piece of fresh fruit, such as an apple or orange
  • ½ a banana
  • ½ cup of chopped, cooked, or canned fruit
  • ½ cup of fruit juice
  • 2 Tbsp of dried fruit

*Each serving contains about 15 grams (g) of carbohydrate.

Milk and yogurt
Servings Examples*

Choose low-fat and fat-free foods more often.

Talk to your registered dietitian or your certified diabetes educator about how many servings from this group that you need in a day.

  • 1 cup of milk
  • 6 oz of yogurt without added sugar

*Each serving contains about 15 grams (g) of carbohydrate.

Meat and meat alternatives
Servings Examples

Talk to your registered dietitian or your certified diabetes educator about how many servings from this group that you need in a day.

Count the following as equal to 1 oz of meat:

  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tbsp of peanut butter
  • 1 oz of cheese
  • 1/4 cup of cottage cheese
  • ½ cup of tofu
  • 1/4 cup of cooked dry beans, lentils, or split peas
  • 3 thin slices of ham
  • 1/6 chicken breast
Fats, sweets, and alcohol
Servings Examples

Eat less fat, especially saturated fat (animal fat or fat that is solid at room temperature). Saturated fat usually is found in meat, cheese, and butter.

Talk to your registered dietitian or your certified diabetes educator about how many servings from this group that you need in a day.

Saturated

  • 1 tsp butter or hard stick margarine
  • 1 Tbsp cream cheese

Unsaturated

  • 1 tsp olive oil or soft margarine
  • 1 Tbsp oil-based salad dressing
  • 1/8 of an avocado
  • 2 Tbsp nuts or nut butter

Talk to your registered dietitian or your certified diabetes educator about ways to have limited amounts of sweets in your meal plan.

  • ½ cup of ice cream
  • 1 small cupcake or muffin
  • 2 small cookies

If you drink alcohol, limit it to no more than 1 drink a day for women and 2 drinks a day for men. Note for women who are pregnant: No amount of alcohol is known to be safe for the fetus.

  • 12 oz of beer
  • 5 oz of wine
  • 1.5 oz of hard liquor

Last Updated: July 22, 2009

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