Building Your Plate, A Guide for Diabetics
Choosing what to eat every day can be a tough decision. For diabetics, there is the added challenge of balancing insulin levels with carbohydrates from the foods you are eating. It may be hard to keep track of the total number of carbohydrates you have eaten throughout the day. You may also get to dinner time and realize you don’t have many carb choices left, which might cause you to go over, and that results in your blood sugar rising.
With the goal of staying on track one method to try is the plate method. First, you want to start with a plate that is 9” or less. Next, you want to divide your plate into three sections. Half your plate should be nonstarchy vegetables and then divide the other half of the plate in half again. For these sections, one will be for lean protein and the other for grain foods or other starchy foods.
Since nonstarchy veggies will make up half of your plate make sure to aim for at least 2-3 different kinds each day and vary the colors as well. This will give you more variety in what you are eating and different health benefits. Keep up the variety when you add your protein. Focus on lean meat, poultry, fish, cheese, eggs, or other plant-based protein foods. By choosing lean meats you may reduce your risk for heart disease. Focus on 5 grams of fat or less for every one ounce serving size. When building your plate be aware of your protein choices. Plant-based proteins such as beans, peas, and lentils have carbohydrates. If you are consuming all plant-based protein, you may want to consider additional nonstarchy veggies where you would normally add grains or starchy veggies to help balance your carbohydrates out. The final section of your plate is for grain and other starchy foods. In this section aim for half your grains to be whole grains, this provides more fiber. Fiber helps slow down how your body takes in carbohydrates and it contributes to overall heart health. Be aware of your serving sizes, a cooked rice or pasta serving is only one-third cup and starchy veggies are a half-cup. Starchy veggies include acorn squash, potatoes, corn, butternut squash, green peas, and pumpkin. Don’t forget milk, yogurt, and fruit to balance your plate. Choosing a small piece of fruit with your meals or even as a dessert will provide a sweet treat with the bonus of good nutrition. Adding a glass of milk or a cup of yogurt can give you the boost of calcium and protein you body needs. Mixing it up with Greek yogurt will give you double the protein as regular yogurt. Just keep in mind fruit, yogurt and milk contain carbohydrates, so plan accordingly.
When planning your lunch and dinner meals aim for dividing your plate into three sections. For breakfast include at least 2 of the three sections. Be creative and add nonstarchy veggies where you can. If you are home or on the go, the plate method can help you visualize and build your plate for success.