Diabetes HealthSource

Eating Guides


Good nutrition is one of the most basic and important diabetes care tools. Eating right can help control blood sugar. And good control protects your long-term health. This meal planning guide is a great way to begin making smart food choices.

Whether you are following a calorie-level meal plan, counting carbohydrates, exchanges or just trying to improve the overall nutritional value of your current eating patterns, the food lists on this page will give you a solid starting point.

Think of this plan as only a temporary guide. Keep in mind that every person with diabetes should have a customized meal plan that provides more freedom in terms of food choices. Just about any food, including your favorites, can be fit into your meal plan.

Many effective meal plans involve tracking what you eat. Two of the most popular approaches are counting calories for regulating weight and counting carbohydrates for blood sugar control. Your diabetes healthcare professional will recommend the best approach for your needs.


The goals for all people with diabetes are to:

  • Promote good blood sugar (glucose) levels
  • Encourage consistent day-to-day food choices, including a variety of foods
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Losing 5-10 lbs. is often the first step in controlling diabetes. Eating healthy with regular exercise are ways to lose weight.



Quick Guidelines

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Calorie Meal Plans

The table below shows sample meal plans, by number of servings, for different calorie levels. To maintain a healthy weight, choose a calorie level close to what you’re eating now. If you need to gain or lose weight, ask you doctor, dietitian, or educator which plan to use. Each plan provides about half of its calories from carbohydrates and less than 30% of calories from fat, based on choosing skim milk and medium or lower fat meats and cheeses.

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Carbohydrate Counting

Carbohydrate (starch and sugar) is the main nutrient in food that raises blood sugar. When you plan meals based on carbohydrate counting, count only the foods that contain carbohydrates. Use either the portion sizes shown in the food list, or calculate the carbohydrate (CHO) grams using the bolded numbers in each food list. If you are using a packaged food with a nutrition label, count the number of carbohydrate grams for the serving size.

Servings from any of these high carbohydrate groups are considered to be equal: starch, fruit, milk, other carbohydrates (sweets). One serving or carbohydrate choice has 15 gms. of carbohydrate in it. Three vegetable servings provide the same amount of carbohydrates as one serving of other carbohydrate food groups.


Calories Per Day
Food Group


5 serv. 7 serv. 8 serv. 9 serv. 11 serv.


3 serv. 3 serv. 4 serv. 4 serv. 6 serv.


2 serv. 2 serv. 3 serv. 3 serv. 3 serv.


2 serv. 2 serv. 3 serv. 4 serv. 5 serv.
Meat & meat
4 serv. 4 serv. 6 serv. 6 serv. 8 serv.
Fat 3 serv. 4 serv. 4 serv. 5 serv. 6 serv.

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The Food Guide Pyramid

The pyramid is a good basic guide to choosing healthy foods. The foods in each section provide some, but not all, of the nutrients needed for health. It is important to eat servings from each group every day. Most people need more of the foods shown in the larger sections at the bottom, and fewer servings from the smaller sections. If you’re using the pyramid, your health care provider will write in the number of servings recommended for your particular needs.

Food Group Daily Servings

Fats, oils, & sweets

Use sparingly

Meat or meat alternatives

2-3 servings


2-3 servings


2-4 servings


3-5 servings

Grain products

6-11 servings


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Portion Size Guide

Use your hand as a guide to estimate portion sizes.

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Contact Us

Call (585) 341-7066

Diabetes HealthSource

2400 S. Clinton Ave.
Building H, Suite 135
Rochester, NY 14618

Phone: (585) 341-7066
Hours: Mon-Fri 8:30 - 4
Fax: (585) 341-7945
Get map and directions

AADE Diabetes Education Accreditation Program (DEAP)