Frequently Asked Questions

Meal Planning With The Plate Model

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What is meal planning with the plate model?

Meal planning with the plate model is a simple way for people with diabetes to plan meals. This model can help you eat the right amount of carbohydrates and keep your blood sugar levels under control. Carbohydrates naturally raise your blood sugar level. Your blood sugar level can rise too high if you eat too much carbohydrate at one time. Carbohydrates are found in starches (bread, cereal, starchy vegetables, and beans), fruit, milk, yogurt, and sweets.

How do I use the plate model to plan my meals?

  • Use a 9-inch dinner plate. Draw an imaginary line down the middle of the plate. On one side, draw another line to divide that section in half. Your plate will have 3 sections.

  • Fill the largest section of your plate with non-starchy vegetables. These include broccoli, cucumbers, salad, cauliflower, and tomatoes.

  • Fill 1 of the small sections of your plate with a serving of starchy food. These include pasta, rice, cereal, corn, potatoes, and beans.

  • Fill the other small section with a serving of meat or other source of protein. Examples include chicken or turkey without skin, fish, lean beef or pork, low-fat cheese, or eggs.

  • Next to your plate, add 1 serving of skim or 1% milk or low-fat yogurt (6 ounces). If you do not drink milk, you can add a serving of starchy food instead. You may also add 1 serving of fruit (1 small piece or ½ cup chopped fruit or fruit salad) next to your plate.

What are serving sizes of foods?

  • Starches: Half of the grains you eat each day should be whole grains.

    • 1 ounce of whole-wheat bread or 1 small (6 inch) flour or corn tortilla

    • 1 small (4 inch) pancake (about ¼ inch thick)

    • ¾ cup of dry, unsweetened, whole grain ready-to-eat cereal or ¼ cup of low-fat granola

    • ½ cup of cooked cereal or oatmeal

    • ⅓ cup of rice or pasta

    • ½ cup of corn, green peas, sweet potatoes, or mashed potatoes

    • ½ cup of cooked beans and peas (garbanzo, pinto, kidney, white, split, black-eyed)

    • 3 graham cracker squares, 6 saltine-type crackers, or 8 animal crackers

  • Fruit:

    • ½ cup of canned or fresh fruit

    • ½ cup of unsweetened fruit juice

    • ¼ cup of dried fruit

  • Milk and yogurt:

    • 1 cup (8 ounces) of skim or 1% milk

    • ¾ cup (6 ounces) of plain, non-fat yogurt

  • Meat and other protein sources:

    • 3 to 4 ounces of any lean meat, fish, or poultry

    • ½ cup of tofu or tempeh

    • 1 large egg

    • 1½ ounces (about 2 tablespoons) of nuts or 2 tablespoons of peanut butter

What other guidelines should I follow?

  • Limit salt and sugar: Choose and prepare foods and drinks with less salt and added sugars. Use the nutrition information on food labels to help you make healthy choices. The percent daily value listed on the food label tells you whether a food is low or high in certain nutrients. A percent daily value of 5% or less means that the food is low in a nutrient. A percent daily value of 20% or more means that the food is high in a nutrient.

  • Choose healthy fats: Choose healthy fats such as polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats in place of unhealthy fats. Healthy fats are found in vegetable oils such as soybean, corn, canola, olive, and sunflower oil. Unhealthy fats are saturated fats, trans fats and cholesterol. Unhealthy fats are found in shortening, butter, stick margarine, and animal fat.

  • Limit alcohol: Limit the amount of alcohol you drink. Alcohol can damage your brain, heart, and liver. It can increase your risk of a stroke and high blood pressure. If you choose to drink alcohol, drink it with meals. When you drink alcohol on an empty stomach, your blood sugar may fall to a low level. Women should limit alcohol to 1 drink a day. Men should limit alcohol to 2 drinks a day. A serving of alcohol is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1½ ounces of liquor.

  • Ask about weight loss: If you are overweight, you may need to make other changes to lose weight. Ask caregivers if you need to lose weight, and how much weight you need to lose. Ask them to help you with a weight loss program.

  • Exercise: Regular exercise helps to keep your blood sugar levels under control. Talk to your caregiver about the best exercise plan for you. Exercise can decrease your risk of heart disease and help you lose weight. Do 30 minutes of exercise at least 5 times each week (2 hours and 30 minutes each week). Do strength training, such as lifting weights or doing pushups, 2 times each week.

When should I contact my caregiver?

Contact your caregiver if:

  • You have high blood sugar levels during a certain time of day, or almost all of the time.

  • You often have low blood sugar levels.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.