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Diabetes Food Pyramid

Timeless Fitness Tip

The Diabetes Food Pyramid has six sections for food groups. They vary in size. The largest group -- grains, beans, and starchy vegetables -- is on the bottom. This means that you should eat more servings of grains, beans, and starchy vegetables than of any of the other foods. The smallest group -- fats, sweets, and alcohol -- is at the top of the pyramid. This tells you to eat very few servings from these food groups.

Diabetes Food Pyramid

On average Americans eat around 40 to 45 percent of our Calories: as carbohydrate. This is a moderate amount of carbohydrate, not high.

A few diet books encourage a low carbohydrate, high protein and moderate fat intake. These diets are not in synch with the American Diabetes Association nutrition recommendations, which are based on years of research and clinical experience. In addition, these trendy diets are hard to follow year after year.


For people with diabetes, it's "the more the merrier" when it comes to vegetables. Eat at least three servings a day. Vegetables are healthy, chock full of vitamins and minerals, and some give you much needed fiber. The best part: Vegetables are naturally low in Calories: -- if you are careful not to top them with butter, sour cream, cream soups, or cheese sauces. Remember, non-starchy vegetables (those in this food group) do contain a small amount of carbohydrate -- 5 grams per serving. Don't get too carried away, you can even overeat vegetables.


Eat some fruit each day for vitamins and minerals. Be honest with yourself about your serving sizes. It is easy to drink a few extra ounces of fruit juice or to call a huge piece of fruit 1 serving when it is at least 2. The steps to take to track your response to fruit are: Check the serving size, eat your fruit, and check your blood glucose level about 1-1/2 to 2 hours later. Use blood glucose monitoring to answer your questions about how fruit works in your body.

Milk and Diabetes

People with diabetes are at the same risk for osteoporosis as the general public. Fat-free (skim) and low-fat (1%) milk and yogurt will provide the calcium you need without saturated fat and cholesterol. A serving of milk or yogurt can be used as a snack or part of a snack -- milk and crackers or yogurt and fruit. Also, you might find that fat-free milk or yogurt makes a good food to treat low blood glucose reactions. They both provide as much carbohydrate as a serving of starch or fruit.

Meat, Poultry, Seafood, Cheese, Eggs, Etc. and Diabetes

People with diabetes have no less or more need for protein than the general public. The American Diabetes Association nutrition guidelines suggest eating between 10 and 20 percent of your calories as protein. The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. People with diabetes have a greater risk of heart disease earlier in life. One of the most important nutrition guidelines to follow is "eat less saturated fat". A quick way to do that is to cut down on animal protein foods -- meats, whole milk dairy foods, and high-fat cheeses (such as cheddar, brie, or American). If you cut down on animal protein, you can be pretty sure you will automatically be cutting down on saturated fat, and cholesterol as well.


A way to make small servings of protein appear larger is to incorporate them into an entree such as low-fat ground beef or turkey sausage in a tomato sauce served over pasta. For ideas, take lessons from cultures that have long practiced making a small amount of protein feed many mouths -- Chinese stir-fry, Mexican burritos, or Japanese sukiyaki. This accomplishes several pyramid goals -- less meat, less fat, more starches and more vegetables. From time to time, take these recipes one step further and eliminate meat all together.

Fat and Diabetes

Fat ought to make up about 30 percent of your Calories:. One of the most important diabetes nutrition guidelines is to hold saturated fat to 10% of Calories:. Why? Because saturated fat raises blood cholesterol. High blood cholesterol is a risk factor for heart disease. People with diabetes have more frequent heart disease. Limiting saturated fat could lower your risk for this diabetes complication. Also, some people with abnormal blood lipids (fat) and a high triglyceride might benefit from increasing the amount of monounsaturated fats they eat. As for cholesterol, keep it to 300mg or less each day. Some foods high in cholesterol are egg yolks and organ meats (liver or kidney).

Sugar and Diabetes

Sugar Cubes Research studies show that, gram for gram, sugars, like table sugar, do not raise blood glucose any more quickly than do other carbohydrates, like potatoes, rice or pasta. This research holds true for people with both types of diabetes. A variety of factors influence how quickly food is digested. A meal with a large amount of fat or fiber, lots of raw foods that take more time to digest, and eating slowly will help keep your blood glucose level on track. The blood glucose level at the time you eat and how much diabetes medication is in your body has a major impact, too. If and when you choose to eat sweets, according to your individual diabetes and nutrition goals, substitute these foods for other carbohydrates in your meal plan. Recall the nutrition message for all Americans, it is the same for people with diabetes -- "Choose a diet moderate in sugars".

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Disclaimer: The material on this Web site is not intended to replace advice from your doctor or fitness professional. Please consult with your physician before beginning any fitness program or fat or weight reduction program. FitnessandFreebies.com takes no responsibility for individual results, or any claim made by a third party.