Introduction

A plate format (also called the plate method) can be used to help you manage how you eat. It helps you see how much space each food should take on a plate.

  • Using a plate format will help you spread carbohydrate throughout the day, which will help keep your blood sugar level from going way up and way down.
  • A plate format is an easy and simple way to plan meals.
  • It can be used along with other meal-planning methods.

How to use a plate format

A plate format is so simple that you can start using it right away. It lets you see how much space each food should take up on your plate.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Practice. Use 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 dietitian.
  • 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 registered dietitian.
  • If you have diabetes, check your blood sugar before and 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 20 cm (8 in.) across. Draw an imaginary line through the centre 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 at least two kinds of 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 grain products and starches. 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, and winter squash.
  • One-fourth is meat and alternatives. This is about the size of the palm of your hand. Examples are lean beef, chicken, turkey, pork, fish, tofu, eggs, beans, and lentils.
  • Add a small piece of fruit. A small piece of fresh fruit is about the size of a tennis ball. Or choose ½ cup (125 mL) of frozen, cooked, or canned fruit.
  • Enjoy a serving of milk or an alternative. A serving is 1 cup of low-fat or skim milk, ¾ cup no-sugar-added yogurt, or 1 cup of fortified soy beverage.

For breakfast, the concept is similar.

  • One-fourth of the plate is a grain product or starch.
  • One-fourth of the plate is a meat or alternative.
  • Add a small piece of fresh fruit or ½ cup (125 mL) of frozen, cooked, or canned fruit.
  • Include a serving of milk or an alternative. A serving is 1 cup of low-fat or skim milk, ¾ cup no-sugar-added yogurt, or 1 cup of fortified soy beverage.

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.

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Rhonda O'Brien, MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator
Colleen O'Connor, PhD, RD - Registered Dietitian

Current as ofMay 23, 2016