Meal planning for diabetes

The "plate method" is a simple way to help diabetics balance their meals.

Did you know that average plate size has increased by almost 23 percent since 1900? Researchers found that plates were about 10 inches in 1950 and almost 12 inches in 2010. By using a smaller dishes and thoughtfully filling them with the right types of foods, you can manage your diabetes.

“The Idaho Plate Method” or plate method was adapted by members of the Idaho Diabetes Care and Education practice group in the 1990s. It is a quick and easy way to help you serve the right amounts of foods. So, how does this work?

You will need four simple dishes. First start with a plate that is nine inches across, you may have to use a salad plate. Next, you need a bowl for cereal or soup. A good size is one that restaurants use to serve a cup of soup. Then you need another small bowl that holds about half a cup. Finally, you need a small cup or glass that holds about one cup. You will notice that these dishes are likely much smaller than the ones you normally use.

Now fill half your plate with low-carbohydrate vegetables. A good list of non-starchy vegetables can be found at the American Diabetes Association site. In one quarter of your plate place your protein. You can use any type of meat, fish, poultry, tofu or eggs but remember that lower fat choices are best. In the last quarter of your plate put your choice of starchy foods. Examples of starchy food are bread, corn, yams, potatoes, pasta and rice. If you choose cereal or soup, use your bowl and put it on the plate. Be careful not to pile up your plate, mounds of food will defeat the purpose. Next, fill your cup or glass with low- or fat-free milk or yogurt. Finally, use the smallest bowl to serve a small piece of fruit.

When followed, the plate method will yield about 45 grams of carbohydrates. Men may need to add an additional starchy food in order to get enough calories and carbohydrates. We know that eating about the same amount of food at about the same time each day is helpful in maintaining level blood sugar levels. Using the plate method is one tool you can use to help achieve this goal.

Finally, it is important to note that the plate method does not take the place of your health care professional. For the best diabetes care, always check with your healthcare team. For more information on diabetes visit the Michigan State University Extension webpage on diabetes.

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