Meal Planning: The Plate Method

Sep 22, 2017 | Healthy Living | 0 comments

A diabetes meal plan can help guide you through how much and what kinds of food you can choose to eat for meals and snacks. Creating a meal plan that fits in with your schedule and eating habits can put you on track to improving your blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood glucose.

There are several important meal planning tools – the Plate Method is just one. Check out some of our other great meal planning resources also.

  • Reading a Food Label
  • Carb counting
  • Healthy Simple Snacks
  • Hidden Calories and Carbs in Beverages

The Plate Method method allows you to create a balanced meal with special attention to your carbohydrate and calorie intake.

1. To get started, imagine there is a line straight down the center of a standard nine-inch dinner plate. Then picture a second line cutting horizontally through one of the halves so that you now have three sections.

plate Method
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2. Fill the largest section with non-starchy vegetables. The following are good choices for non-starchy vegetables.

  • Cucumber
  • Eggplant
  • Greens (collard, kale, mustard, turnip)
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions
  • Peppers
  • Radishes
  • Salad greens (chicory, endive, escarole, lettuce, romaine, spinach, arugula, radicchio, watercress)
  • Sprouts
  • Squash (cushaw, summer, crookneck, spaghetti, zucchini)
  • Tomato

  • Artichoke
  • Asparagus
  • Baby corn
  • Beans (green, wax, Italian)
  • Bean sprouts
  • Beets
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage (green, bok choy, Chinese)
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Coleslaw (packaged, no dressing)

3. In one of the smaller sections, place grains and starchy foods. The following are good choices for grains and starchy foods:

  • Bulgur (cracked wheat)
  • Whole wheat flour
  • Whole oats/oatmeal
  • Whole grain corn/corn meal
  • Popcorn
  • Brown rice
  • Whole rye
  • Whole grain barley
  • Whole farro
  • Wild rice
  • Buckwheat
  • Buckwheat flour
  • Millet

  • Quinoa
  • Parsnip
  • Plantain
  • Potato
  • Pumpkin
  • Acorn squash
  • Butternut squash
  • Green Peas
  • Corn
  • Dried beans such as black, lima, and pinto Lentils
  • Dried peas such as black-eyed and split
  • Fat-free refried beans
  • Vegetarian baked

4. In the other small section, put your protein. The following are good choices for proteins:

Plant-Based Proteins

  • Beans such as black, kidney, and pinto
  • Bean products like baked beans and refried beans
  • Hummus and falafel
  • Lentils such as brown, green, or yellow
  • Peas such as black-eyed or split peas
  • Edamame
  • Soy nuts
  • Nuts and spreads like almond butter, cashew butter, or peanut butter
  • Tempeh
  • Tofu Products


  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Cornish hen
  • Cheese and Eggs
  • Reduced-fat cheese
  • Cottage cheese
  • Egg whites and egg substitutes

Fish and Seafood

  • Fish high in omega-3 fatty acids like Albacore tuna, herring, mackerel, rainbow trout, sardines, and salmon
  • Other fish including catfish, cod, flounder, haddock, halibut, orange roughy, and tilapia
  • Shellfish including clams, crab, imitation shellfish, lobster, scallops, shrimp, oysters.

Beef, Pork, Veal, Lamb

  • Select or Choice grades of beef trimmed of fat including: chuck, rib, rump roast, round, sirloin, cubed, flank, porterhouse, T-bone steak, tenderloin
  • Beef jerky
  • Lamb: chop, leg, or roast
  • Organ meats: heart, kidney, liver
  • Veal: loin chop or roast
  • Pork: Canadian bacon, center loin chop, ham, tenderloin


  • Buffalo, ostrich, rabbit, venison
  • Dove, duck, goose, or pheasant (no skin)

5. Also, add a serving of fruit, a serving of dairy or both as your meal plan allows.

6. Choose healthy fats in small amounts. For cooking, use oils. For salads, some healthy additions are nuts, seeds, avocado and vinaigrettes.

7.To complete your meal, add a low-sugar drink like water, unsweetened tea or coffee.

“Create Your Plate – American Diabetes Association.” American Diabetes Association. American Diabetes Association, 1995. Web. 05 Nov. 2015.

“Diabetes Meal Plans and a Healthy Diet.” American Diabetes Association. American Diabetes Association, 1 July 2015. Web. 30 Oct. 2015.