The foods you eat affect your blood glucose levels. A diabetes treatment plan includes a plan for balanced nutrition based on eating three meals per day.

Foods contain nutrition and calories from carbohydrates, fats and proteins. All of these affect weight and heart health. It is the carbohydrate foods that cause blood glucose levels to rise. Carbohydrates are found in starchy foods like bread, noodles, rice and potatoes, and also in foods that have sugar, like fruits and juices, milk, yogurt and sweets. Carbohydrates provide energy, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that the body needs. Planning an approach to balance the amount of carbohydrates that are eaten at meals and snacks will help manage blood glucose levels.

One method to manage blood glucose levels through foods choices is to count carbohydrates. It is important to balance the amount of carbohydrate with your body’s ability to use it. A Certified Diabetes Education (CDE) or Registered Dietitian (RD) can help to establish an eating plan that is right for you and your health goals.

You can count carbohydrates by grams or choices. One carbohydrate choice is a serving of food that has about 15 grams of carbohydrate it in. Knowing serving sizes will help you accurately count carbohydrates.

When you have diabetes, knowing what to eat and the portion size is important. It is a good idea to measure food portions so you know exactly how much you are eating. If measuring cups are not available, your portion size can be estimated by using common objects as a point of reference.

  1. One clenched fist = 1 cup 8 fluid ounces of cold/hot drink or a one-cup serving of casserole, broccoli, etc.
  2. One cupped hand = 1/2 cup of pasta, rice, hot cereal, grits, canned fruits, beans, tofu
  3. Two cupped hands = 1 cup of cold cereal, vegetables, salad greens
  4. The palm of your hand = 3 ounces of cooked meat, such as a hamburger patty, chicken breast, or fish fillet
  5. A tennis ball = a serving of fresh fruit like apples or oranges, or 1/2 cup serving of ice cream or frozen yogurt
  6. Four dice = 1 ounce of cheese
  7. Thumb tip = 1 tsp (a serving size of butter, peanut butter, or margarine)
  8. Thumb length = 1 tbsp (a serving of peanut butter, salad dressing, sour cream, mayonnaise, or dips
For more information or to make an appointment:

Diabetes and Nutrition Education
Winona Health, Clinic 2nd floor
855 Mankato Avenue
Winona, MN 55987

8 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday–Friday

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