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Diabetes: Using a Plate Format to Plan Meals

Overview

The diabetes plate method is a simple way to plan meals and manage the amount of carbohydrate you eat. Put non-starchy vegetables on half your plate. Add protein foods, like meat or meat substitutes, on a fourth of the plate. Put carbohydrate foods, like grains, starchy vegetables, beans, fruit, and milk and yogurt, on the final fourth of the plate. Choose water or another low-calorie beverage to drink with your meal.

How to use a plate format

Here is a simple way to manage the amount of carbohydrate you eat at meals.

Sample lunch or dinner plate

Sample plate method for diabetes, showing plate with one-half plate of non-starchy vegetables, one-fourth plate of protein foods, and one-fourth plate of carbohydrate foods.
slide 1 of 2
    
slide 1 of 2, Sample lunch or dinner plate,

Follow these guidelines for lunch and dinner. Use a plate that measures 9 inches (23 cm) across.

  • Half the plate is non-starchy vegetables. Some examples are broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, mushrooms, peppers, and salad greens.
  • A fourth of the plate is protein foods. These include chicken, turkey, lean beef and pork, fish, tofu, nuts, eggs, and cheese.
  • A fourth of the plate is carbohydrate foods. These include grains, fruit, yogurt and milk, and starchy vegetables like potatoes, corn, and beans.
  • Choose water or another low-calorie drink. Water is a good choice with meals. Other examples of low-calorie drinks include sparkling water or unsweetened tea or coffee.

Sample breakfast plate

slide 2 of 2
    
slide 2 of 2, Sample breakfast plate,

For breakfast, the concept is similar.

  • Half the plate is non-starchy vegetables. You can leave this section of your plate empty if you don't usually eat vegetables at breakfast.
  • A fourth of the plate is protein foods.
  • A fourth of the plate is carbohydrate foods.
  • Choose water or another low-calorie drink.

Credits

Current as of: May 9, 2022

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Elizabeth T. Russo MD - Internal Medicine
Rhonda O'Brien MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator
Colleen O'Connor PhD, RD - Registered Dietitian

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