Sample plate format

The standard breakfast in a plate format includes:

  • One-fourth plate bread, grain, or starchy food. Starchy foods include bread, rolls, rice, crackers, and other cooked grains; cereal; tortillas; and starchy vegetables, such as potatoes, corn, winter squash, and legumes (cooked dry beans, dry peas, and lentils).
  • An 8 oz glass of fat-free or low-fat milk. If you don't like or can't drink milk, you can substitute 8 oz of unsweetened (or artificially sweetened) fat-free or low-fat yogurt or calcium-fortified soy milk. Talk to your registered dietitian about whether you need to take calcium supplements.
  • A serving of fruit. This can be a medium fresh fruit, ½ cup cooked or canned fruit, ½ cup fruit juice, or 1/4 cup dried fruit.
  • An optional one-fourth plate of meat or protein (such as an egg).
Picture of a sample breakfast plate format

Sample breakfast plate

A standard lunch or dinner in a plate format includes:

  • One-fourth plate starch.
  • One-fourth plate meat, fish, or poultry.
  • One-half plate nonstarchy vegetables. Nonstarchy or low-carbohydrate vegetables include broccoli, green beans, carrots, mushrooms, tomatoes, cauliflower, spinach, peppers, and salad greens.
  • An 8 oz glass of fat-free or low-fat milk.
  • A serving of fruit.
Picture of a sample lunch or dinner plate format

Lunch or dinner plate

This meal plan provides about 40 to 50 grams of carbohydrate at each meal and about 1,200 calories for the day. Most people need more calories than this. For more calories, you can add snacks in the afternoon and at bedtime. Talk to your registered dietitian or certified diabetes educator about the calorie level that is right for you. Snacks may include 1 or 2 servings of milk, fruit, or starch, depending on your calorie needs.

Adapted from Camelon KM, et al. (1998). The plate model: A visual method of teaching meal planning. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 98(10): 1155–1158.

Last Updated: July 22, 2009

Author: Judy Dundas

Medical Review: Caroline S. Rhoads, MD - Internal Medicine & David C.W. Lau, MD, PhD, FRCPC - Endocrinology & Metabolism

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