How to control food amount if you have diabetes

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How to control food amount if you have diabetes

Two common ways to help you plan how much to eat if you have diabetes are the plate method and carbohydrate counting, also called carb counting.

You should check with your family doctors about the method that’s best for you.

Plate method

The plate method helps you control your portion sizes.

You don’t need to count calories. The plate method shows the amount of each food group you should eat. This method works best for lunch and dinner.

Use a 9-inch plate. Put non-starchy vegetables on half of the plate; a meat or other protein on one-fourth of the plate; and a grain or other starch on the last one-fourth.

Starches include starchy vegetables such as corn and peas. You also may eat a small bowl of fruit or a piece of fruit, and drink a small glass of milk as included in your meal plan.

Photo of a plate with cucumber and spinach on half of the plate, brown rice on one quarter of the plate, and baked chicken on the last quarter.

The plate method shows the amount of each food group you should eat.

Your daily eating plan also may include small snacks between meals.

Portion sizes

You can use everyday objects or your hand to judge the size of a portion.

  • 1 serving of meat or poultry is the palm of your hand or a deck of cards
  • 1 3-ounce serving of fish is a checkbook
  • 1 serving of cheese is six dice
  • 1/2 cup of cooked rice or pasta is a rounded handful or a tennis ball
  • 1 serving of a pancake or waffle is a DVD
  • 2 tablespoons of peanut butter is a ping-pong ball

Carbohydrate counting

Carbohydrate counting helps you keep track of the amount of carbohydrates you eat and drink each day.

Because carbohydrates turn into glucose in your body, they affect your blood glucose level more than other foods do.

Carb counting can help you manage your blood glucose level. If you take insulin, counting carbohydrates can help you know how much insulin to take.

The right amount of carbohydrates varies by how you manage your diabetes, including how physically active you are and what medicines you take, if any.

Your health care team can help you create a personal eating plan based on carbohydrate counting.

The amount of carbohydrates in foods is measured in grams. To count carbohydrate grams in what you eat, you’ll need to

  • learn which foods have carbohydrates
  • read the Nutrition Facts food label, or learn to estimate the number of grams of carbohydrate in the foods you eat
  • add the grams of carbohydrate from each food you eat to get your total for each meal and for the day

Most carbohydrates come from starches, fruits, milk, and sweets. Try to limit carbohydrates with added sugars or those with refined grains, such as white bread and white rice.

Instead, eat carbohydrates from fruit, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and low-fat or nonfat milk.