University of Illinois Extension

Is MyPlate Okay If I Have Diabetes?

For people with diabetes, it is important to understand what foods are made of so that blood glucose levels can be more easily controlled. Remember, carbohydrates are the main source of glucose in the blood. Memorizing the exact amount of carbohydrate in all the foods that we eat would be almost impossible and impractical. Fortunately there are six main food groups that have similar carbohydrate content (see What Foods have Carbohydrates?):

  • The Starch and Starchy Vegetables Group
  • The Fruit Group
  • The Vegetable Group
  • The Meat, Meat Substitutes, Eggs, and Cheese Group
  • The Milk and Yogurt Group
  • The Fats and Oils Group

It is important to eat foods from each group every day. The type and the amount of food that you chose to eat can have either positive or negative effects on your health. These food groups are included in MyPlate, except for Fats and Oils.

The same foods will be important whether you have diabetes or not. However, the amounts may be different from MyPlate to whatever food tracking system you are using. One of the most popular is the carbohydrate counting system (carb counting).

In the carb counting system, for instance, raw vegetables are not counted as long as the total number of carbs eaten are less than 20 from this food. In one cup of raw vegetables there is 5 grams of carbohydrate. If you ate this five times in one day, or ate two cups of raw vegetables three times a day, that would add up to more than 20 grams, and would have to be counted as part of your carbohydrate allowance.

In MyPlate, the recommendation is to eat 4 to 5 servings of vegetables per day. This may not be what your meal plan tells you to eat. So, while MyPlate can be used by those who have diabetes, the diet plan discussed with you by your dietitian should guide your food choices. If you haven’t talked to a dietitian, ask your doctor at your next visit, or go to http://www.eatright.org/Public/. At the far right of the green top bar, click on “Find a Dietitian”.

For practice in making your plate, go to Plan a Meal in Games and More