A plate format helps you plan your meal by visualizing
how much space each food should occupy on a plate. This can help you eat a
balanced meal. It also can prevent you from eating too much of any food group.
format is easy to learn. It also can be used
along with other methods, such as carbohydrate counting for people who have diabetes.
Test Your Knowledge
If you practice using the plate format, it will help you visualize how much space on a
plate each food should occupy.
Post a copy of a
sample plate format on your refrigerator. Refer to it until you know how much
space different foods should take up on your plate. Make sure that you are using a 9-inch plate.
Picture the food on your plate. Learn how much space each food
needs on your plate, and try to picture that amount when you are in different
situations, such as eating out or attending an event.
a copy of the sample plate format to plan a day's meals and snacks. If you need
help, talk with your certified diabetes educator or a registered
Keep a record. Use a plate format for a week, and keep track of
your meals and snacks. You can make copies of the sample for each day. If you
have questions about using a plate format, talk with your diabetes educator or
If you have diabetes, check your blood sugar before and 1 to 2 hours
after you eat. Then write the results on your food record. Doing this will help you see how foods affect your body.
Use a plate that measures 9 inches across. Draw an imaginary line through the center of your plate, and then divide one of the halves into quarters. You can use your hand to judge portion sizes. Follow these guidelines for lunch and dinner:
Half the plate is non-starchy vegetables. This is about the size of your closed fist, although you can go back for seconds on these foods. Examples are broccoli, green beans, carrots, mushrooms, tomatoes, cauliflower, spinach, peppers, and salad greens.
One-fourth of the plate is a bread, starch, or grain. This is about the size of half a closed fist. Examples are bread, rolls, rice, crackers, cooked grains, cereal, tortillas, and starchy vegetables like potatoes, corn, winter squash, beans, peas, and lentils.
One-fourth is lean protein. This is about the size of the palm of your hand. Examples are beef, chicken, turkey, pork, fish, tofu, and eggs. (For the plate format, beans should be counted as a starch, not as a protein.)
Add a small piece of fruit. A small piece of fresh fruit is about the size of a tennis ball. Or choose ½ cup of frozen, cooked, or canned fruit. You could also have a small handful of dried fruit or ½ cup (4 ounces) of 100% fruit juice.
Enjoy a cup (8 ounces) of low-fat or fat-free milk. If you don't drink milk, you could substitute with 6 ounces of no-sugar-added yogurt, another serving of fruit, or a small dinner roll.
For breakfast, the concept is similar. One-fourth of the plate is a bread, starch, or grain. One-fourth of the plate is protein. The breakfast plate also includes a cup (8 ounces) of low-fat or fat-free milk and one small piece of fruit.
A plate format is easy to learn. It also can be used along with other methods, such as carbohydrate counting for
people who have diabetes.
For more information, the following resource is available:
American Diabetes Association (ADA)
1701 North Beauregard Street
Alexandria, VA 22311
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) is a national organization
for health professionals and consumers. Almost every state has a local office.
ADA sets the standards for the care of people with diabetes. Its focus is on
research for the prevention and treatment of all types of diabetes. ADA
provides patient and professional education mainly through its publications,
which include the monthly magazine Diabetes Forecast,
books, brochures, cookbooks and meal planning guides, and pamphlets. ADA also
provides information for parents about caring for a child with diabetes.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.