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The Truth About Diabetes Food Serving Sizes

Confused about how much food you can eat when you have diabetes? Your dietitian or certified diabetes educator can tell you the exact number of servings from each food group you should eat per day.

It sounds simple. But first, you need to know how much is in a serving. It may be different from what you expect!

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For example, let’s say you eat a cup of rice at dinner. But a portion is actually 1/3 cup. So you got three times as much carbs as you thought.

To outsmart those mistakes, get to know what a serving size really holds.

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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