Diabetes Food Pyramid: Lower Your Blood Sugar Levels

food pyramid diabetics need to follow

Diet is the most critical aspect in the control and reversal of diabetes and the prevention of prediabetes from progressing to type 2 diabetes. Unfortunately, most patients do not know what to include in their diet.  The American Diabetes Association (ADA) has created a diet pyramid to be followed by diabetes patients.

It contains 6 food groups, showing the right foods and amounts to be consumed daily. The wider section at the bottom of the pyramid should be consumed in larger amounts while the narrower section at the top should be eaten in smaller portions.

Is the Old Pyramid Still Effective?

The traditional food pyramid is no longer recommended for diabetic patients. The bottom contains foods with too many carbs which a person with diabetes should not eat. It includes the following:

  • Grain, bread, and starches: 6-11 servings daily
  • Vegetables: 3-5 servings
  • Fruits: 2-4 servings
  • Dairies: 2-3 servings
  • Meat and other proteins: 4-6 ounces
  • Fats, oils, and sweet treats

Because the old pyramid does not encourage a low carb diet for diabetes management and weight loss, diabetics should not depend on it. Food with a high glycemic index trigger a spike in level of sugars. People with diabetes are encouraged to include a Mediterranean diet in their meal plan. The new pyramid limits portions of eggs, cheese, red meat, and eliminates added sugars, making it resemble the Mediterranean diet.

Research shows that following the old diabetes food pyramid may not help you achieve your goal of managing diabetes. Here is what’s wrong with it.

bundles of grains

Starches and Grains

The low carb diet excludes all grains and most starches because they are known to be high carb food. High carb diets can result in hyperglycemia and heighten A1c. Also, no research has been done to show the positive effects of whole grain food on blood sugars. ADA and other large health organizations recommend a 25 percent inclusion of starches and whole grains. Research shows that whole grain is better than the refined or white ones because they are complex carbohydrates containing more fiber and have a lower GI. The problem is; these do not control diabetes. Patients with prediabetes or diabetes type 2 can, however, eat them in moderation, or avoid them completely.


Fruit may be natural and healthy food, but not entirely in a diabetic case. When eaten in large portions, fruits can result in hyperglycemia. This is because most of them have been found to be carb rich. Here are some of the recommended fruits for diabetics. Watermelon can help with diabetes.


When compared to the proteins and carbohydrates macronutrient, fats have the least effect on glucose levels. Scientific research shows that healthy fat aids in insulin resistance and do not raise cholesterol.

The New Diabetes Food Pyramid

In the new diabetes food pyramid, foods are grouped according to their carbs and protein content. Foods recommended for regular consumption form the bottom-most part of the pyramid while those that should be eaten less are at the topmost part.

Starting from the food that is most recommended:


The ADA new standards recommend the intake of vegetables in the largest portions daily. These include broccoli, cabbage, bell pepper, celery, cauliflower, among others. Veggies contain minerals, fiber, flavonoids, vitamins, and are low in carbs making them an excellent choice for the control of blood sugars and A1c.


Consuming the protein can keep you full longer. All types of meats can be consumed by diabetes patients, from poultry to seafood. However, diabetics are advised to choose lean meat. Other meat substitutes like soy products, and cheese, together with unsweetened peanut butter is also a good source of this.


The ADA encourages diabetes patients to include low carb fruits in their meal plan. Berries, peach, and lime are a good example. Oranges, watermelons, apples, and bananas, for example, are higher in carbs and can make it harder to regulate sugar levels. Because canned fruits contain added sugars, diabetics should also avoid them.


Grains and starches should be eaten in little amounts or eliminated from the meal plan. However, whole grains are healthy containing minerals, fiber, and vitamins, consider eating them in moderation.

Fats and Sweets

Diabetics are advised to limit the amount of fats and sweets consumed. Sweets can be abundabt in carbohydrates while fats have a lot of calories. Trans fat and saturated fat can also increase your risk of heart disease. Reducing or avoiding the intake of fats and sweets can regulate hyperglycemia.


Although alcoholic drinks have calories, they contain zero nutrients. When taken on an empty stomach, they can lower the levels of sugar to dangerous levels and may also increase blood fat.

How much should you Eat Daily?

If you are a small woman who exercises, are small or medium-sized and want to lose weight, or medium-sized but do not exercise much, you can consume between 1200 and 1600 calories per day.

blue lollipop

Things you should not consume when you have Diabetes

  • Candy
  • Energy drinks
  • Soda including the diet soda
  • Baked goods
  • Ice cream
  • Fried foods
  • Highly salted foods

Best Diet for Diabetics

The eating pattern of a person living with diabetes plays a crucial role in the management of blood sugars. It is vital to take into account the type of food you can and can’t eat. The following categories are the diets you should consider in your meal planning.


This is a plant-based diet that encourages the intake of fruits and vegetables. It also accommodates little amounts of poultry, cheese, yoghurt, fish, and meat. Research shows that this diet can help with handle diabetes by stabilizing blood sugars.

basket of vegetables


Vegan is a plant-based diet that encourages the intake of fruits and vegetables, beans, and nuts. This diet eliminates animal products. Consider using apple cider vinegar in your salads.

Low Carb Low Fat Diet

Here, diabetics are encouraged to consume healthy fat, good protein such as fish, beans, non-starchy vegetable, and poultry products. This diet also improves blood sugars.

If you have diabetes, it is crucial that you follow the new diabetes food pyramid. Pay attention to the time you eat your first meal and maintain it each day. However, if you are insulin dependent, your eating schedule can be flexible.