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Diabetes: The Truth About Food Serving Sizes

Confused about how much you can eat when you have diabetes? First you need to know how much food is in a serving. It may be different from what you expect.

Let’s say you eat a cup of rice at dinner. But a serving is actually considered 1/3 cup. So you got three times as many carbs as you thought.

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To outsmart those mistakes, get to know what a serving size really holds. And for expert help, talk to your dietitian or a certified diabetes educator.

Fruits: 1 Serving

1/2 banana
1 small apple, orange, or pear
1/2 cup chopped, cooked, or canned fruit

Vegetables: 1 Serving

1 cup raw leafy vegetables
1/2 cup other vegetables cooked, raw (chopped), or canned
1/2 cup vegetable juice

Bread, Cereal, Rice, Starchy Vegetables, and Pasta: 1 Serving

1 slice of bread
1/2 English muffin, bun, small bagel, or pita bread
1 6-inch tortilla
4-6 crackers
2 rice cakes
1 ounce ready-to-eat cereal
1/2 cup cooked cereal, pasta, or bulgur
1/3 cup cooked rice
1 small potato or 1/2 large potato
1/2 cup sweet potatoes or yams
1/2 cup corn kernels or other starchy vegetables such as winter squash, peas, or lima beans

Nuts, Poultry, Fish, Eggs, Dry Beans, Cheese, and Meat: 1 Serving

2-3 ounces cooked lean beef, veal, pork, lamb, chicken, turkey, or fish
2-3 ounces low-fat natural cheese (such as Swiss, cheddar, Muenster, parmesan, mozzarella, and others)
1/2 cup cooked dry beans
1/4 cup tofu
1 egg (or an equal serving of egg substitute)
2 tablespoons peanut butter
2 ounces processed cheese (American)
1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese
1/2 cup canned tuna (packed in water)

Milk and Yogurt: 1 Serving

1 cup low-fat milk
1 cup low-fat yogurt (unsweetened, or sweetened with aspartame or other artificial sweeteners)

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Michael Dansinger, MD on June 25, 2013

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