The Diabetic Food Pyramid


When dealing with diabetes it can be hard to find the right way to manage one's diet, especially when one is bombarded with so many different options. Getting informed about the different diets available and how they work is essential to finding what works for you.

The Diabetes Food Pyramid

The diabetes food pyramid is similar to the USDA food pyramid that you learned of in school and can often be found on food labels. The food pyramid presents an example of healthy diet which consists of eating more grains, fruits, and vegetables, and less meat, sweets, and fats.

The pyramid is particularly useful when trying to determine which foods are high in carbohydrates. Follow this guide to the food pyramid to know which foods you should be limiting and which foods you should be eating more of.

Fats and Sweets

Your intake of fats and sweets should be limited to only one serving per day. It is especially important to limit your consumption of saturated fats as they can increase your cholesterol, and put you at a higher risk of heart disease. Saturated fats are found in animal products such as a hamburger, cheese, bacon and butter. Example servings of fat are: 1/8 of an avocado, one tablespoon of cream cheese or salad dressing, one tablespoon of butter, margarine, oil or mayo, or ten peanuts.

Sweets should be limited as well as they are high in fat and sugar. However, if you decide to eat sweets make sure to include them as part of your healthy diet and not as “extra.” Example servings of sweets are: ½ cup of ice cream, one small cupcake or muffin, or two small cookies.


When trying to decided upon your choice of milk or yogurt try to choose low-fat or nonfat milk products, rather than whole. Remember that yogurt has natural sugar in it and that many times artificial sweeteners may be added. It is therefore advised that you read the label thoroughly when trying to choose your yogurt. Diabetics should have two to three servings of dairy products per day. Example servings are: one cup of milk or one cup of yogurt.


When trying to choose your servings of meat it is usually recommend that you choose fish and poultry over red meat, because they contain less fat. Remember to remove the skin, which is where most of the fat comes from, when preparing chicken or turkey. It is also recommended that when you choose lean cuts of beef, veal or pork.

Always try to trim all visible fat from the meat before cooking it. Try to opt for baking, roasting or grilling rather than frying and try to avoid adding fat as much as possible. Diabetics are allowed two to three servings per day, from this food group. Examples of servings are: two to three ounces of lean meat, poultry or fish; ½ to ¾ cup of tuna or cottage cheese, one egg, one tablespoon of peanut butter, or 4 oz. of tofu.


Diabetics should have 2 to 4 servings of fruits per day. Most dietitians recommend choosing whole fruits over juice, as whole fruits contain more fiber. However, if you are opting for juices be careful to select fruit juices that don't have any added sweeteners or syrups, this also applies to canned fruits. Try choosing citrus fruits, like oranges, grapefruit and tangerines. Example fruit servings are: one small fresh fruit, ½ cup of canned fruit, ¼ cup of dried fruit, or ½ cup of fruit juice.


Three to five servings of vegetables per day are recommended from this food group. Always try to choose fresh or frozen vegetables rather than canned vegetables. This is because canned vegetables usually have sauces, fats and salt added to them, which you should avoid.

Choose dark green and deep yellow vegetables, such as spinach, broccoli, romaine lettuce, carrots, chilies and peppers. Some examples of vegetable servings are: one cup of raw vegetables, ½ cup of cooked vegetables, ½ cup tomato or vegetable juice.

Grains, Beans and Starchy Vegetables

It is recommended that diabetics eat six or more servings of grains, beans and starchy vegetables per day. Choose whole-grain foods that are nutritious and high in fiber, such as whole grain bread or crackers, bran cereal and brown rice. Beans are also a good source of fiber.

Try to use whole-wheat or other whole-grain flours when cooking or baking. Example servings of grains, beans and starchy vegetables are: one slice of bread, ½ small bagel, English muffin, or pita bread; ½ hamburger or hot god bun, one 6 inch tortilla, four to six crackers, ½ cup of cooked cereal or pasta; 1/3 cup of cooked rice, ¾ cup of cry cereal, ½ cup of cooked beans, lentils, pears or corn.

Remember that maintaining a healthy diet is only one of the necessary steps to managing your blood sugar leves, and that you should compliment it with a regular exercise routine as well.