The Plate Method for Diabetics

If you have Type 2 diabetes, you need to be careful in your food choices. This can be easier said than done, though. You may need to make big changes in your eating habits, and some methods of meal planning for diabetes require looking up information and making calculations — something that can be hard to fit into a busy life. The Plate Method is an easier way to manage a diabetic meal plan.

Four steps to a healthy plate

Step 1 in the Plate Method is to fill half your plate with nonstarchy vegetables. This is a good rule of thumb for everyone.

What are nonstarchy vegetables? Some examples:

  • salad greens
  • squash
  • tomatoes
  • onions 
  • peppers
  • mushrooms
  • carrots
  • cauliflower
  • sprouts

The American Diabetic Association has a long list if you need more ideas. 

Step 2 is to fill one quarter of the plate with lean protein like fish, chicken, or lean beef.

Step 3, fill the last quarter of your plate with healthy carbohydrates. These include starchy vegetables like corn and peas, whole grains, and fruit. 

When you choose carbohydrate foods, remember to make every bite count. That means you should choose nutritious foods that do your body good, more often than fun foods. White rice provides very little nutrition, for example, and sodas provide no food value. Potatoes, berries, or whole wheat bread taste great and also provide fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

If you choose to have dessert for a special occasion, that last quarter of the plate should show you the portion size you can have.

Step 4, add fruit or milk plus some healthy fat (like olive oil, avocados, or nuts).

Choose a calorie-free drink like water or tea, and you’re set.

Talk with your doctor

Your doctor may refer you to a diabetes educator or a registered dietician, or they might have given you some eating guidelines including counting carbohydrates or glycemic index of foods. Talk with your doctor about the Plate Method to confirm that it’s a good choice for you.