A registered dietitian can help you best decide how to balance your diet with carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Here are some general guidelines:
The amount of each type of food you should eat depends on your diet, your weight, how often you exercise, and other existing health risks. Everyone has individual needs, which is why you should work with your doctor and, possibly, a dietitian to develop a meal plan that works for you.
But there are some reliable general recommendations to guide you. The Diabetes Food Pyramid, which resembles the old USDA food guide pyramid, splits foods into six groups in a range of serving sizes. In the Diabetes Food Pyramid, food groups are based on carbohydrate and protein content instead of their food classification type. A person with diabetes should eat more of the foods in the bottom of the pyramid (grains, beans, vegetables) than those on the top (fats and sweets). This diet will help keep your heart and body systems healthy.
GRAINS, BEANS, AND STARCHY VEGETABLES
(6 or more servings a day)
Foods like bread, grains, beans, rice, pasta, and starchy vegetables are at the bottom of the pyramid because they should serve as the foundation of your diet. As a group, these foods are loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and healthy carbohydrates.
It is important, however, to eat foods with plenty of fiber. Choose whole-grain foods such as whole-grain bread or crackers, tortillas, bran cereal, brown rice, or beans. Use whole-wheat or other whole-grain flours in cooking and baking. Choose low-fat breads, such as bagels, tortillas, English muffins, and pita bread.
(3 - 5 servings a day)
Choose fresh or frozen vegetables without added sauces, fats, or salt. You should opt for more dark green and deep yellow vegetables, such as spinach, broccoli, romaine, carrots, and peppers.
(2 - 4 servings a day)
Choose whole fruits more often than juices. Fruits have more fiber. Citrus fruits, such as oranges, grapefruits, and tangerines, are best. Drink fruit juices that do NOT have added sweeteners or syrups.
(2 - 3 servings a day)
Choose low-fat or nonfat milk or yogurt. Yogurt has natural sugar in it, but it can also contain added sugar or artificial sweeteners. Yogurt with artificial sweeteners has fewer calories than yogurt with added sugar.
MEAT AND FISH
(2 - 3 servings a day)
Eat fish and poultry more often. Remove the skin from chicken and turkey. Select lean cuts of beef, veal, pork, or wild game. Trim all visible fat from meat. Bake, roast, broil, grill, or boil instead of frying.
FATS, ALCOHOL, AND SWEETS
In general, you should limit your intake of fatty foods, especially those high in saturated fat, such as hamburger, cheese, bacon, and butter.
If you choose to drink alcohol, limit the amount and have it with a meal. Check with your health care provider about a safe amount for you.
Sweets are high in fat and sugar, so keep portion sizes small. Other tips to avoid eating too many sweets:
- Ask for extra spoons and forks and split your dessert with others.
- Eat sweets that are sugar-free.
- Always ask for the small serving size.
You should also know how to read food labels, and consult them when making food decisions.