Top 5 rules for a healthy dinner plate

Top 5 rules for a healthy dinner plate

Create a healthy dinner plate to lose weight.

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends five steps for your dinner plate to lose weight and manage diabetes.

Stick with a 9 inch dinner plate and be sure you can still see parts of your plate (including the rim) after following these rules.

1. Fill ½ your plate with non-starchy vegetables

Non-starchy vegetables:
  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Cucumbers
  • Green beans
  • Lettuce
  • Mushrooms
  • Peppers

Don’t be afraid of overloading on vegetables. There are only 10-45 calories per cup of fresh vegetables. It’s the sauce, butter, and dressing that adds the calories.

Choose fresh vegetables, frozen vegetables (without sauce), or canned vegetables labeled ‘low sodium’ or ‘no salt added’.

2. Fill ¼ of your plate with starchy vegetables or grains

Starchy vegetables:
  • Corn
  • Peas
  • White potatoes

Starchy vegetables fall under the ‘grain’ part of your plate because they contain more carbohydrates than other (non-starchy) vegetables.

  • One cup of canned corn (starchy vegetable) has 30 grams (g) of carbohydrates.
  • One cup of canned green beans (non-starchy vegetable) has 8 g of carbohydrates.
  • Bread
  • Cereal
  • Crackers
  • Pasta
  • Popcorn
  • Pretzels
  • Rice
  • Tortillas

Focus on eating whole grains such as whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta, and brown or wild rice. Be aware that claims such as 9-grain, multi-grain, and wheat don’t mean whole grain. Ignore these and other misleading grain claims.

Limit your intake of refined grains such as white bread, white rice, cookies, and other sources of refined grains.

3. Fill the last ¼ of your plate with protein

Fill one quarter of your plate with a small portion of meat or a meat substitute:

  • Beef
  • Cheese
  • Chicken
  • Egg
  • Fish
  • Pork
  • Tofu
  • Tuna
  • Turkey

A small portion of beef, chicken, pork or any other meat will be about the size of a deck of cards.

4. Add fruit

Add a piece of fruit or ½ cup of fresh, frozen, or canned fruit to your meal.

Choose fresh fruit, frozen fruit that is unsweetened, or canned fruit ‘in lite syrup’ or ‘in its own juice’. These sources of fruit will contain less added sugar than fruit juice, frozen fruit with added sugar, and canned fruit in heavy syrup.

5. Add an 8 oz. glass of milk

Add an 8 oz. glass of low-fat or non-fat milk or a 6 oz. container of yogurt to your meal.

If you don’t eat dairy, the ADA suggests adding another small source of carbohydrate such as a small roll.

Following these five steps will help ensure you eat a well-balanced meal and use portion control; two important components of eating to lose weight.

Create your Plate’, American Diabetes Association. Retrieved 12/12/12 from

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