How to Eat Well

What You Should Know About Your Food

Some of the best ‘medicine’ for controlling diabetes comes right from your own kitchen. Food is the fuel that keeps your body working. The physical activity you do, the medicine you take, your blood sugar level - all are affected by how much and what you eat.

Don’t give up your favorite foods! Learn how much to eat, how often to eat, and how to prepare healthy foods that you love.

A meal plan should be something that works well for you. There are no forbidden foods for a person with diabetes. Advising people to “just cut out sugar” is no longer true.

The foods that are healthy for you are the same foods that are healthy for people without diabetes. A dietitian, who is an expert in nutrition, can help you make a meal plan with the foods you like. Ask your medical provider for a referral or check to find a registered dietician. Local diabetes education programs can help too. They are found in every area of Vermont.

What To Do

To get started:

The USDA released the new MyPyramid food guidance system in 2005. The system provides many options to help people make healthy food choices. MyPyramid emphasizes the basics: keep good nutrition simple – be physically active, stay within calorie limits and enjoy foods from all food groups.

In general, MyPyramid tells you to:

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How Many Portions do You Need Each Day from MyPyramid?

Inactive women & some older adults Active women, inactive men Moderately active men, teenage girls
Calorie level* About 1,600 About 2,000 About 2,400
Grains 5 oz. 6 oz. 8 oz.
Vegetables 2 cups 2.5 cups 3 cups
Fruits 1.5 cups 2 cups 2 cups
Milk 3 cups 3 cups 3 cups
Meat & Beans 5 oz. 5.5 oz. 6.5 oz
Fats Small amounts with most fat sources from oils and nuts

*Calories are based on age, gender and activity level. Go to to find the calorie level that is right for you.

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What is a Portion?

What’s your portion? One person might eat three ounces of meat, another might eat 12 ounces. Standard portions of foods from each food group are listed below. You may want to measure your food from time to time to remind yourself of portion sizes.



Note: potatoes, corn, peas and beans are “starchy” vegetables which means they contain more carbohydrate than other vegetables. People with diabetes may need to consider these foods as substitutes for breads, rice and other grains in their meal plans. A registered dietitian or diabetes educator can help with this.


Meat and Beans

Most people can have 5-7 ounces of protein rich foods per day.

A small portion, 3 ounces of cooked lean meat, poultry, or fish is the size of a deck of cards, or a tape cassette.

One ounce equivalents:

Milk and Yogurt


"I had a big bagel with cream cheese for breakfast the other day and my blood sugar was sky high all day. I didn’t realize how much carbohydrate was in one bagel…. almost as much as eating 5 pieces of toast!!!!! I need to watch my portions, maybe two pieces of toast would have been a better choice."

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