Dietitians Dish: November is Diabetes Awareness Month

Nov. 1, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Updated Nov. 2, 2010 at 6:02 a.m.

Elizabeth Sommerfeld

Elizabeth Sommerfeld

By Elizabeth Sommerfeld, MS, RD, LD

November is Diabetes Awareness Month. Many people, when diagnosed with diabetes, ask themselves "What can I eat?"

The great thing is that people with diabetes can eat just about anything as long as portions are kept under control. The easiest way to monitor what you eat is called the plate method.

The American Diabetes Association provides the following recommendations:

1. Use your dinner plate and put a line down the middle of the plate.

2. Then on one side, cut it again so you will have 3 sections on your plate.

3. Fill the largest section with non-starchy vegetables such as:

Spinach, carrots, lettuce, greens, cabbage, bok choy

Green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes,

Vegetable juice, salsa, onion, cucumber, beets, okra

Mushrooms, peppers, turnips

4. Now, in one of the small sections, put starchy foods such as:

Whole-grain breads, such as whole wheat or rye

Whole-grain, high-fiber cereal

Cooked cereal such as oatmeal, grits, hominy, or cream of wheat

Rice, pasta, dal, tortillas

Cooked beans and peas, such as pinto beans or black-eyed peas

Potatoes, green peas, corn, lima beans, sweet potatoes, winter squash

Low-fat crackers and snack chips, pretzels, and fat-free popcorn

5. And then on the other small section, put your meat or meat substitutes such as:

Chicken or turkey without the skin

Fish, such as tuna, salmon, cod or catfish

Other seafood such as shrimp, clams, oysters, crab or mussels

Lean cuts of beef and pork, such as sirloin or pork loin

Tofu, eggs, low-fat cheese

6. Add an 8-oz. glass of non-fat or low-fat milk. If you don't drink milk, you can add another small serving of carbohydrate such as a 6-ounce container of light yogurt or a small roll.

And a piece of fruit or a cup fruit salad and you have your meal planned. Examples are fresh, frozen or canned in juice or frozen in light syrup or fresh fruit.

This is a simple and easy way to control what you eat without having to count grams or servings of carbohydrates. All you have to do is use your imagination and learn what foods should go in what section of the plate. The American Diabetes Association website is a great tool to use for learning about foods, planning meals, getting recipes, and connecting with other people who have diabetes as well. Check them out at for more information.

Elizabeth Sommerfeld is a registered and licensed dietitian and has a master of science degree. Send questions or comments to



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