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Diabetes: The Healthy Plate

The healthy plate is a visual guide to help you eat a wide range of healthy foods. A good rule of thumb: Devote half your plate to vegetables and green salad. Split the other half between protein and starchy carbohydrates. Fruit makes a good dessert. For your beverage, choose milk or water. Use oils sparingly.

If you eat the lowest number of servings for each type of food, you’ll eat about 1,600 calories a day. The highest number of servings will give you about 2,800 calories a day. Your calorie needs are based in part on your height, gender, and activity level. Your healthcare provider can help you determine a calorie level that’s right for you.

A healthy plate consists of the following: Fill one quarter of your plate with lean mean, chicken, or fish; this is about three ounces. Fill one quarter of your plate with a starchy choice, such as one-half cup of mashed potatoes. Fill one half of your plate with vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, and salad. Add one serving of fruit. Choose one serving of milk, which is eight ounces. Add a small amount of margarine or oil in cooking or at the table. For breakfast, use only half the plate. For lunch and dinner, use the whole plate.


(3 to 5 servings a day)

A serving has 5 grams of carbohydrate, about 25 calories, and no fat.

Healthy low-fat choices: fresh vegetables or frozen vegetables without sauce, butter, or margarine.


(2 to 4 servings a day)

A serving has 15 grams of carbohydrate, about 60 calories, and no fat.

Healthy low-fat choices: whole fresh fruits or canned fruit with no sugar added.

Breads, Grains, and Other Starches

(6 to 11 servings a day)

A serving has 15 grams of carbohydrate, 3 grams of protein, and about 80 calories. Most have no more than 1 gram of fat.

Healthy, low-fat choices: whole-grain breads and cereals, corn, tortillas, oatmeal, bulgur, brown rice, dried beans, lentils, peas, yams, acorn or butternut squash, pumpkin.

Meat, Meat Substitutes, and Other Proteins

(2 to 3 servings a day)

A serving has 21 grams of protein and no carbohydrate. Lean and very lean choices have the least fat and the fewest calories.

Healthy, low-fat choices: fish, white-meat chicken or turkey, lean red meat, reduced-fat or fat-free cheese.

Milk and Yogurt

(2 to 3 servings a day)

A serving has 12 grams of carbohydrate and 8 grams of protein. Low-fat and fat-free choices have about 100 calories and little fat.

Healthy, low-fat choices: low-fat or fat-free milk and fat-free yogurt with artificial sweetener.

Fats, Sweets, and Alcohol

(use sparingly)

The foods in this group are high in calories. The best choices of fat are olive and canola oil and tub or liquid margarine. A serving of fat is 1 teaspoon. It has 45 calories and 5 grams of fat. Sweets often have fat and carbohydrate. Eat them in small amounts.

What About Alcohol?

Work with your healthcare team to decide if you can have alcohol. If you do drink, do so in moderation. And always eat a carbohydrate at the same time to avoid low blood sugar.

Author: StayWell Custom Communications
Last Annual Review Date: 5/15/2011
Copyright © The StayWell Company, LLC. except where otherwise noted.
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