The Diabetes Plate Method

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The Diabetes Plate Method was created to help a person with diabetes effectively plan meals for long term health and disease management. Managing your diabetes by the plate method can support your diabetic journey for managing your blood sugar during meal time.

Diabetes plate method

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What is the Diabetes Plate Method?

The Diabetes Plate Method is a tool you can use to help with portion control. The CDC defines it this way: “Fill half with nonstarchy vegetables, such as salad, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and carrots. Fill one quarter with a lean protein, such as chicken, turkey, beans, tofu, or eggs. Fill one quarter with carb foods.”


Eating with these food groups in mind was designed to help make meal time easier for the person with diabetes to understand the ideal meal plan. Whether you have diabetes or not, learning portion control can be a great way to help attain your own fitness goals.

Who Created The Diabetes Plate Method?

Back in the 1980’s, Swedish Dietitians created The Diabetes Plate Method. At the time it was actually called “The Swedish Plate Method”. (Plate Method see also National Library of Medicine) Developing The portion plate has helped those with Diabetes to have an easier time understanding how to manage their health using this divided plate.

How to portion meals according to the Diabetes Plate

I’ve been recommending this style of eating for many years. The tl;dr is:

  • Make half your plate veggies
  • Make 1/4 of your plate carbs (fruit, grains, starchy veggies)
  • and make 1/4 of your plate lean proteins.

I have a ZILLION meal ideas with those portions in mind, specificially:

BBQ turkey and rice sq with calories and macros

There are so many different tools to use when it comes to your health.

In choosing what will work best for your situation, I think it is helpful to not get discouraged if you try something, and it doesn’t pan out the way you were hoping it would.

You could first try to divide your plate into the recommended sections, and see how that feels. Remember that you will want to stick with whatever you try for longer than a couple of days. Trying something new is like trying to write with the non-dominant hand! You will not feel comfortable in a day, or probably even in a week of trying this. If it seems like it’s something you are enjoying, then you may want to invest in a plate.

1/2 your plate for veggies

Veggies are to fill half your plate. This is the best way to get all your micro nutrients and fiber. The veggies that can go in this portion of your plate can include:

  • Artichoke 
  • Arugula 
  • Asparagus
  • Avocado 
  • Basil 
  • Beets 
  • Broccoli 
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cabbage 
  • Carrots 
  • Cauliflower 
  • Celery 
  • Chives 
  • Cilantro 
  • Corn
  • Collard Greens
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Fennel
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Green Onions
  • Kale
  • Lettuce/greens
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions
  • Peppers, Bell
  • Peas
  • Spaghetti squash
  • Spinach
  • Sprouts
  • String Beans
  • Swiss Chard
  • Tomatoes
  • Zucchini

1/4 your plate for protein

Proteins should fill 1/4 of your plate. These should include

  • Nuts such as Almonds, cashews, peanuts, pecans, walnuts
  • Beans, such as Black beans, garbanzo beans, kidney beans, lima beans, pinto beans, lentils, soy beans/ Tofu
  • Seeds, such as flax, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds.
  • Eggs
  • Ground Beef
  • chicken Breasts
  • Deli Meats
  • Fish
  • Steaks
  • Tuna
  • Turkey
  • Greek yogurt, regular yogurt
  • Cottage cheese

1/4 of your plate for carbs

Aim to fill 1/4 of your plate with healthy, whole food carb sources. These include fruits, grains, and starchy vegetables. Some of those foods can include


  • Apples
  • Apricots
  • Bananas
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cherries
  • Coconut
  • Cranberries
  • Dates
  • Figs
  • Grapefruit
  • Grapes
  • Kiwi
  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Melon
  • Nectarines
  • Oranges
  • Papaya
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Pineapple
  • Plums/ Prunes
  • Pomegranate
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Watermelon


  • Buckwheat
  • Corn Tortillas
  • Couscous
  • Oats
  • Orzo
  • Popcorn
  • Rice, Brown
  • Rye
  • Quinoa
  • Taco Shells
  • Whole wheat Bagels
  • Whole Wheatt breads
  • Whole Wheat Flour
  • Whole Wheat pasta
  • Whole Wheat Tortilla

Starchy Vegetables

  • sweet potatoes
  • white potatoes
  • butternut squash
  • pumpkin

And that’s it! Use these lists to prepare a combination of healthy meals.

Diabetes plate method with meal idea


  1. I am interested in a 1500 cal macro sorted plan. I have been weighing my food because I find it easier than measuring and a lot less dishes to wash. I am having trouble figuring out what the most “perfect” food choices are for me so I am not eating the wrong stuff just because it fits the volume measurement of a serving. I get the idea of % of total calories for each food group but cannot understand the macro conversion process. Diabetic educator told me 30-45 g of carbs per meal staying closer to 30 but how do I convert that to macros? And then there is the fat to deal with! Geese! Low fat, low carb, low sodium. No wonder people give up, but I am trying to stay committed to doing my best. Do you have any resources how to customize my shopping list and meal prep for success? I need to lose weight and reduce my A1C but I will fail if I go under 1500 cal. I have lost 20 lbs so far and it has taken time but I’m OK with that. I want to be happy not hungry. Thanks for any help you can offer.

    1. Hi!
      Thanks for reaching out. Although I’m not licensed to consult for chronic illnesses like diabetes, I think I can answer your questions generally.

      First of all, 20lbs is AWESOME! Congratulations on that. It’s quite an accomplishment.

      Secondly, if you are supposed to stick to 1500 calories, with 35-40 g at each meal. It means your protein would be 40g X 3 meals = 120 g protein per day. Carbs = 30 g per meal X3 meals = 90 g carbs per day. So, you’d have 73 g fat per day leftover. (which is a lot of fat to me (I like a low fat diet). But if that’s what the dietitian recommends, she could definitely give you a list of foods that fit each category!

  2. How much is a serving of vegetables, protein and carbs. Like how many cups or ozs. of veges, how many ozs, of protein and how many servings of carbs. (whole wheat bread, etc.).

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