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What is the Diabetes Plate Method of Eating?

The Diabetes Plate method was originally developed by Swedish dieticians as a visual way to teach meal planning in a simple way for individuals with diabetes. Later, it was adapted and modified to align with the nutritional guidelines of the American Diabetes Association (ADA).

The intent of the Diabetes Plate is to control blood sugar by teaching portion control.  Well balanced meals with ideal portions of vegetables, protein, and carbohydrates can be created by using this method without carb counting, weighing, or measuring foods.

When using the Diabetes Plate, it is important to get the right plate size. The plate should be 9 inches. One half of the plate should be non-starchy vegetables. Most of these types of foods can be eaten without having large spikes in blood sugar. Non-starchy vegetables also contain vitamins, minerals, and healthy fiber that are essential to fuel the body. Examples of these types of foods are green leafy vegetables, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber, and tomatoes.

Second, one-quarter of the plate should be filled with lean protein from animal-based sources. These types of proteins are low in fat and they can increase satiety. Some examples of lean protein include lean poultry, fish, shellfish, and eggs. Cheses and cottage cheese are included as lean protein because they only contain a small amount of carbohydrates.

Plant-based proteins can be used for individuals who are vegetarian or vegan. It is important to know that plant-based proteins contain carbohydrates which can impact blood sugar levels. Tofu is an option; it is a soy-based protein and contains very little carbohydrates.

Thirdly, one-quarter of the plate is filled with carbohydrates. It is important to select complex carbohydrates such as whole grains and legumes. They are high in fiber, take longer to digest, and they do not cause a rapid rise in blood sugar. Some other starchy foods such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, and white rice can be used. However, these raise blood sugar faster.  Diary products such as milk and fruits are included in this part of the plate because they contain carbohydrates.

Lastly, it is important to drink plenty of water.  Water is good because it contains no calories or carbohydrates and has no effect on blood sugar. Low calorie or zero calorie options include unsweetened tea or coffee, sparkling water, flavored water without added sugar, and diet soda or other diet drinks.

Combination foods and the Plate Method

Foods such as soups, casseroles, sandwiches, pizza, and pasta combine many foods together. You can still use the plate method by identifying the different foods and think about where they would fit on the plate.

One example provided by the ADAis pizza. In one slice of pizza, the crust is the carbohydrate, the cheese and any meat on top is considered the protein, and the tomato sauce and any vegetables are considered non-starchy vegetables.