Diabetes: What Does a Healthy Plate Look Like?

Healthy eating is all about balance. The right types of foods in the right amounts can help anyone to control weight while lowering the risk of chronic diseases. Balance is especially important if you have diabetes. Proper proportions of carbohydrates, proteins, and other nutrients can help you manage your condition and avoid complications.

One simple way to balance your diet is to balance your plate. The American Diabetes Association recommends filling half of your plate with non-starchy vegetables such as greens, broccoli, carrots, and string beans. After the veggies have their place, fill half of the remaining space with starchy, carbohydrate-rich foods such as pasta, bread, rice, potatoes, or beans (such as pinto or kidney beans). The remaining space — about one quarter of the total plate — is the spot for protein-rich food such as red meat (about three or four ounces), chicken, low-fat cheese, eggs, or tofu. Have a piece of fruit and a glass of milk on the side, as your meal plan allows, and you’ve got a complete, balanced meal.

Balancing your plate is a great first step toward a healthier diet. But if you’re still having trouble controlling your weight or your blood sugar, you might have to try counting carbohydrates or following a meal exchange plan. Even then, as you work toward your goal, you’ll always know you’re on the right track if your plate is picture-perfect.


Create Your Plate. Diabetes Forecast magazine.

American Diabetes Association. Rate your plate. http://www.diabetes.org/nutrition-and-recipes/nutrition/rate-your-plate.jsp

American Diabetes Association. Create your plate. http://www.diabetes.org/food-nutrition-lifestyle/nutrition/meal-planning/create-your-plate.jsp

Joslin Diabetes Center. Making healthy food choices. http://www.joslin.org/Files/Joslin_making_healthy_choices.pdf

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