Creating Your Own Diabetic Meal Plan

Whole Grain Spelt Bread and Pasta

Individuals learning the best way to control or prevent diabetes through proper eating can benefit from following a diabetic diet sample until they become comfortable creating their own menus and meal plans.

Eating to Control Diabetes

If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, your doctor may provide you with a specific, calorie restricted diabetic diet sample to follow. He or she may also recommend that you consult with a registered dietician, diabetes educator, or nutritionist to develop an optimal eating plan.

If your healthcare provider doesn't provide you with a specific plan, or if you are simply changing the way you eat to reduce your risk of developing diabetes, you may want to put together your own sample eating plan to guide you in meal preparation. Information about diabetic diets is widely available, so it isn't difficult to design your own diabetic diet sample.

A proper diabetic diet is high in fiber, low in sugar, and follows the Create Your Plate guidelines developed by the American Diabetes Association.

Creating a Diabetic Diet Sample

Diabetic diet plans often include three meals and two snacks every day. By looking at the serving allocations recommended by the Diabetic Food Pyramid, one can easily create a sample diet to follow.

Grains & Starches

  • Recommendation: 6- 11 servings each day
  • Plan 2 - 3 servings for each meal, and allow 1 serving for each snack.
  • Note: Potatoes, peas, corn, winter squash, and other starchy vegetables go in this category, as do legumes.

Vegetables (Non-starchy)

  • Recommendation: a minimum of 3-5 servings each day
  • Eat 2 or more servings of vegetables with at least two meals each day.
  • Note: It's perfectly acceptable to eat more than 5 servings of non-starchy vegetables daily on a diabetic diet.


  • Recommendation: 2-4 servings each day
  • Savor one or two servings of fruit at two daily meals or snacks.
  • Note: Fruit are not a "free food" on a diabetic diet. Do not exceed the recommended quantities.


  • Recommendation: 2-3 servings daily.
  • Enjoy one serving of reduced fat dairy products, such as yogurt and milk, with two to three meals or snacks each day.
  • Note: It is always advisable to chose low fat and fat-free dairy options.

Meats or Meat Substitutes

  • Recommendation: 4 - 6 ounces daily, divided among meals.
  • Consume up to three ounces of meat at two meals every day.
  • Note: Be sure to select only the leanest cuts of meat. Note that cheese falls under this category when planning meals for a diabetic diet.

Oils, Fats, Sweets

  • Recommendation: Consume only in limited quantities.
  • Save oils, fats, and sweets for special occasions and always enjoy in moderation.
  • Note: When selecting oils for cooking, be sure to select heart-healthy varieties and avoid adding trans fats to your food.

Serving Sizes

In addition to focusing on how your food consumption is allocated among the different levels of the Diabetes Food Pyramid, it's also important to follow recommendations for serving sizes. Each item on the following lists represents one serving:

Grains and Starch Servings

  • 1 slice of bread
  • ¼ of a bagel (1 ounce)
  • ½ an English muffin
  • 1/2 of a pita bread
  • one tortilla (6 inches)
  • ¾ cup dry cereal
  • ½ cup cooked cereal
  • ½ cup starch vegetable (beans, sweet potatoes, potatoes, corn, peas)
  • 1 cup winter squash (acorn, butternut, etc.)
  • 1/3 cup of cooked rice
  • 1/3 cup of cooked pasta

Vegetable Servings

  • 1 cup of any raw vegetable (non-starchy)
  • 1/2 cup of any cooked vegetable (non-starchy)

Dairy Servings

  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 1 cup fat free, skim, or low fat milk

Meat & Meat Substitute Servings

  • a three ounce serving of lean meat is approximately the same size as a deck of playing cards
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon of peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup of cottage cheese
  • 1/2 cup tofu

Oils, Fats, Sweets

  • 1/2 cup of ice cream
  • 1 cupcake
  • 2 small cookies

Following the Plan

By adapting your eating habits to follow the principles of the Diabetic Food Pyramid, you'll be on your way to improved health. Whether you have to change the way you eat to keep diagnosed diabetes under control, or you're just looking for a healthier way to eat, following a diabetic diet can have a positive impact on your overall health and well being.


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Creating Your Own Diabetic Meal Plan