Divide and conquer: How portion control can help you manage diabetes

When it comes to diabetes, portion control is key for keeping steady blood sugar levels and maintaining a healthy weight.

Using just a standard-size 12-inch dinner plate, you can learn to determine correct portion sizes of a typical meal.

Vegetables

About half of your plate should be filled with non-starchy vegetables, like spinach, cabbage, bok choy, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, or peppers.

When it comes to these types of vegetables, you can't really go overboard, so portion sizes here matter less than with proteins or starches. Just make sure you're careful about your intake of more starchy vegetables, like potatoes or root veggies, as these have a higher glycemic index and will raise your blood sugar more rapidly.

Meat

About one-fourth of your plate can be filled with proteins, preferably lean options like turkey, skinless chicken, salmon, or other cold-water fish. As a general rule, one serving of cooked meat should be about the size of a bar of soap or deck of cards. For fish, aim for a serving that is close to the size of a checkbook.

Starches

Grains are easy to go overboard on, so try to measure things out when you eat rice, breads, oatmeal, or other starches. Recommendations vary, but The American Diabetes Association suggests that your starches fill about one-fourth of your plate. This roughly equals about one slice of bread, one tortilla, 4-6 crackers, 1/3 cup cooked rice, 1/2 cup of potatoes, or 1/2 cup of cereal or pasta.

Dairy

For dairy, it's important to opt for low-fat choices. Portion sizes are roughly equal to one cup - so one cup of low-fat milk or one cup of low-fat yogurt would equal a portion size.

Eating the correct portions of different foods ensures that you're getting a proper macronutrient balance in your diet - which will keep your blood sugar stable, prevent carbohydrate cravings and keep you energy levels even. While "eyeballing" portion sizes can be a skill learned over time, you're better off using measuring cups until you feel confident you know how much you're really serving yourself - it's easy to misjudge.

Source: American Diabetes Association

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