What Is The Diabetes Plate Method?

What’s the healthiest diet for diabetes? 

If you ask ten different people that question, you’ll probably get ten different answers.

Between low-carbohydrate, ketogenic and Paleo diets it can get overwhelming to understand which type of diet is the best for managing your diabetes.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be complicated, and you don’t have to give up entire food groups or obsessively track carbs and calories.

All you need is a little background knowledge about basic nutrition, a plate, and your eyes!

What Is The Diabetes Plate Method?

Your diet plays a major role in the management of your blood glucose levels. Many of the foods you probably eat daily can raise your blood glucose level such as bread, fruit, and milk. 

These foods are carbohydrates, or carbs, and also include starchy vegetables like potatoes, grains like rice, and legumes.

Just because you have diabetes doesn’t mean you need to give up whole food groups to manage your blood sugar. You can eat carbohydrates and still meet your blood sugar goals, despite what you might hear with popular fad diets.

The Diabetes Plate Method is an easy way to structure your meals so they’re balanced. Balanced meals help promote stable blood glucose levels. The Plate Method is a guide to help you choose foods in proportions that help keep your blood sugar levels from spiking after you eat.

Get Your FREE Diabetes Diet Plan

  • 15 foods to naturally lower blood sugar levels
  • 3 day sample meal plan
  • Designed exclusively by our nutritionist

By clicking “Download Now”, I agree to Ben's Natural Health Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.

How Do You Do The Plate Method?

The Diabetes Plate Method is a simple way to come up with perfectly portioned meals without counting calories or carbs. Because it doesn’t involve weighing or measuring, many people find it more enjoyable and sustainable to do long-term.

All you need for the Plate Method for Diabetes is a plate around nine inches across. This size of plate helps you serve enough food to make you feel satisfied without over-filling your plate and eating with your eyes, which we’re all guilty of doing from time to time!

Half of your plate should consist of non-starchy vegetables, a quarter of the plate starchy foods, and a quarter lean protein.

If you’re not eating a meal laid out on a plate (for example, a salad, baked potato, and steak), you can still apply the principles of the Diabetes Plate Method. Aim to make a good portion of your meal consist of non-starchy vegetables with equal parts protein and starchy food. 

For instance, if you’re having pizza – opt for thin-crust with lean protein like chicken, and have a salad or your favorite vegetable on the side!

What Should Your Plate Consist Of?

½ non-starchy vegetables

A nonstarchy vegetable is very low in total carbohydrates. Nonstarchy vegetables don’t raise your blood sugar glucose significantly, and they can help make you feel full. 

Vegetables are rich in fiber which helps promote heart health, gastrointestinal health, and can help stabilize blood glucose levels.

If you need some ideas for non-starchy vegetables to fill your plate with, consider:

  • Asparagus

  • Broccoli

  • Brussels Sprouts

  • Cabbage 

  • Cauliflower

  • Celery

  • Cucumber

  • Eggplant

  • Green beans, pea pods, snow peas, and sugar snap peas

  • Leafy greens such as kale, mustard greens, Swiss Chard, etc.

  • Mushrooms

  • Salad greens such as lettuce, spinach, arugula, endive, and salad mixes

  • Squash such as zucchini, yellow squash, and spaghetti squash (not winter squash like acorn and butternut, which are more starchy)

  • Tomatoes

¼ starchy/carbohydrate foods

Carbohydrate foods include grains, milk/yogurt, legumes, and fruit. Some examples of starchy foods include:

  • Whole grains like brown rice, bulgur, oats, polenta, quinoa, and whole-grain products like whole-wheat bread, tortillas, and pasta

  • Starchy vegetables like acorn & butternut squash, green peas, parsnips, potatoes, pumpkin, and sweet potatoes/yams

  • Beans and legumes like black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, garbanzo beans, and lentils

  • Fruit including fresh, frozen, and dried (dried fruit contains more sugar than fresh/frozen)

  • Dairy products like milk, yogurt, and certain milk substitutes that are higher in carbs like soy milk (cheese is very low in carbohydrates)

¼ lean protein

Protein doesn’t raise your blood sugar. It also promotes a sense of satiety and can slow digestion, helping to slow your glycemic response to carbohydrate foods.

Lean protein is low in saturated fat. Saturated fat is mainly found in animal products like fatty cuts of meat or marbled meat. Saturated fat can promote high levels of LDL “bad” cholesterol, which is one of many risk factors for developing heart disease.

Some protein is high in unsaturated fat, like salmon. Unsaturated fat is considered heart-healthy because it’s less likely to raise LDL “bad” cholesterol and can promote healthy levels of HDL “good” cholesterol. This is the exception to the lean protein rule since unsaturated fats are healthy.

While it’s fine to eat higher-fat meat on occasion, it’s ideal to choose lean meat consistently.

Some examples of lean protein include:

  • Cheese and cottage cheese

  • Chicken & turkey

  • Lean deli meats

  • Fish like salmon, cod, tuna, and tilapia

  • Lean beef cuts such as chuck, round, sirloin, flank, or tenderloin

  • Lean pork cuts such as center loin chop or tenderloin

  • Shellfish like shrimp, scallops, clams, mussels, and lobster

If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, there are still plenty of sources of lean, healthy protein. 


  • Beans, lentils, hummus, and falafel

  • Edamame (soybeans)

  • Nut butter like peanut butter, almond butter, etc.

  • Nuts and seeds

  • Plant-based meat substitutes (usually made from textured vegetable protein, tofu products, and other plant-based ingredients)

  • Tofu and tempeh (products made from soybeans)

diabetes support group

Foods to Include

The Diabetes Plate Method should consist of whole, minimally processed foods whenever possible.

1. Grains

Grains should be whole grains whenever possible. Whole grains are richer in fiber and nutrients compared to refined grains. 

People who eat high-fiber diets tend to have a significantly lower risk of developing coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and certain diseases of the gastrointestinal system. 

Choosing whole wheat pasta over regular refined pasta and brown rice over white rice boosts the fiber, nutrient, and protein content of your meal.

2. Starchy Vegetables and Healthy Fats

If you’re choosing starchy vegetables like potatoes, opt to leave the skins on – that’s where a lot of the fiber is!

Cook protein with healthy fats like olive oil or avocado oil. Avoid deep-frying foods and the use of refined vegetable oils like corn oil and vegetable oil.

Aim for a variety of colors when it comes to your fruits and vegetables. Deep greens, rich oranges, and rich purples all contain unique antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. If the food in your meal is all the same color, try to mix it up to include several different colors.

Fruits and vegetables should be fresh or frozen without added salt or sugar. Canned fruits and vegetables are also fine, but be sure to rinse them to remove any added salt or sugar.

3. Yoghurt

Greek and Icelandic-style yogurts are lower in carbohydrates and higher in protein compared to regular yogurt. Choose plain yogurt to avoid added sugar. Nonfat, 2%, or whole milk yogurt are all good options. 

Foods To Limit or Avoid

1. Meat

Having diabetes increases your risk of developing heart disease, including high blood pressure. High-fat and high-sodium meats can worsen your heart health if you eat large amounts regularly.

High-fat and processed meats like bacon and sausage are fine to have once in a while, but if you eat them regularly, you’re taking in a lot of saturated fat and sodium. 

For reference, four slices of bacon provide a quarter of both your daily sodium and saturated fat allowance for a day.

2. Processed vegetables

Try to stay away from processed vegetables that contain sodium and other preservatives. Steamable vegetables with cheese sauce are one example.

3. Fruit with added sugar

Avoid fruit with added sugar such as pie filling, dried fruit with added sugar, and canned fruit in heavy syrup. 

Dried fruit without added sugar is fine to have in moderation, but remember that the sugar content is more concentrated and adds up quickly.

4. Dairy

When it comes to dairy products, try to opt for plain or light yogurts instead of flavored. Flavored yogurts are packed with added sugar which can raise your blood sugar levels.

Benefits Of The Plate Method

The Plate Method for Diabetes is flexible and versatile. You can mix and match the different food groups so you don’t get bored eating the same thing. You can also feel confident that you’re getting a well-balanced meal.

There are plenty of fad diets that have come and gone, but the Diabetes Plate Method isn’t one of them. Fad diets can help you lose weight in the short term because they’re overly restrictive. 

However, the majority of people who follow fat diets end up re-gaining the weight they lost within a year or so. The repeated cycle of trying different fad diets and re-gaining the lost weight is called yo-yo dieting. Yo-yo dieting isn’t healthy and can lead to other problems like eating disorders.

The Plate Method for Diabetes is a learning tool you can use wherever you go. Practice its principles when you’re planning your meals, choosing an entree at a restaurant, or traveling overseas. You don’t need scales, measuring cups, or anything fancy to practice the Plate Method!


The Plate Method for Diabetes is a guideline for structuring balanced meals. Foods are portioned in a way that promotes healthy blood sugar levels by keeping portions of carbohydrate foods moderate and balancing them with foods that don’t raise your blood sugar.

Taking care of your health is a lifelong journey, so finding a sustainable meal plan is very important. The Diabetes Plate Method fits the bill because it isn’t restrictive and doesn’t require measuring or counting, which means it’s more sustainable than many fad and restrictive diets.

Explore More


21 Best Snacks for Diabetics.


  1. Anderson JW, Baird P, Davis RH Jr, Ferreri S, Knudtson M, Koraym A, Waters V, Williams CL. Health benefits of dietary fiber. Nutr Rev. 2009. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19335713/
  2. Hirahatake KM, Astrup A, Hill JO, Slavin JL, Allison DB, Maki KC. Potential Cardiometabolic Health Benefits of Full-Fat Dairy: The Evidence Base. Adv Nutr. 2020. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31904812/

Top Products

Total Health


Glucose Control