Diabetes: Sample Plate Format

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Use these pictures to help you visualize your next balanced meal.

Sample lunch or dinner plate
Sample lunch or dinner plate format for people with diabetes
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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.
Sample breakfast plate
Sample breakfast plate format for people with diabetes
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For breakfast, the concept is similar.

  • One-fourth of the plate is a bread, starch, or grain.
  • One-fourth of the plate is a protein.
  • Include an 8-oz glass of fat-free or low-fat milk.
  • Add a small serving of fresh fruit or ½ cup of canned fruit.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerKathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerRhonda O'Brien, MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator

Current as ofNovember 14, 2014

Current as of: November 14, 2014

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Rhonda O'Brien, MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator