The Diabetes Plate Method

The diabetes plate method is a quick way to visualize a balanced healthy plate no matter if you are eating at home or dining out. Although this method is intended for those who have been diagnosed with diabetes, people who do not have diabetes or those who have been diagnosed with prediabetes can also use it to build a healthy plate. The method is flexible, simple and no special equipment or foods are needed.



The diabetes plate method is an easy formula that helps you eat right with every bite and can help manage your blood sugar. For people who have diabetes, the plate method encourages consistency with carbohydrate intake, portion control, and the inclusion of a variety of foods – without having to count, calculate, weigh, or measure.

Fill half your plate with nonstarchy vegetables

Nonstarchy vegetables are lower in carbohydrates, so they do not raise blood sugar very much. They are also high in vitamins, minerals and fiber. They are also generally low in calories.
Examples of nonstarchy vegetables include:

Fill one quarter of your plate with lean protein foods

Protein is an important part of building a healthy plate. Protein foods are good sources of vitamins, minerals and amino acids.

Examples of lean protein foods include:

  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Eggs
  • Shellfish like shrimp, scallops, clams, mussels, or lobster
  • Lean beef cuts such as chuck, round, sirloin, clank, or tenderloin
  • Lean pork cuts such as center loin chop or tenderloin
  • Cheese and cottage cheese
  • Tofu

Fill one quarter of your plate with carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are our body’s main sources of energy. They help fuel our brain, kidneys, heart muscles, and central nervous system. However, we tend to overdo it on portions, and we often consume processed foods that are high in carbohydrates and missing important nutrients and fiber.

Limiting your portion of carbohydrate foods to one quarter of your plate can help keep blood sugars from rising too high after meals.

Example of carbohydrate foods include:

  • Whole grains such as brown rice, oats/oatmeal, and quinoa
  • Whole grain products such as whole grain bread, wheat pasta and whole grain tortillas
  • Starchy vegetables such as:
    • Acorn squash
    • Butternut squash
    • Green peas
    • Plantain
    • Potatoes
    • Sweet potatoes
  • Beans and legumes (Black, kidney, pinto and garbanzo beans)
  • Fruits and dried fruits
  • Dairy products like milk, yogurt and milk substitutes (soy milk)

Choose water or a zero-calorie drink

At each meal choose water or zero-calorie drinks like unsweetened tea (hot or iced), unsweetened coffee (hot or iced), or sparkling water without added sugar.

Making the plate method a habit

Now that you know what the plate method is all about, have fun putting it into action. It’s like putting pieces of a puzzle together to make your body healthy and to help regulate your blood sugar. Try using the plate method for one meal a day then try using it for all of you and your family’s meals.

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