The Idaho Plate Method works by visualizing how much space each of the majorfood groups should occupy on one’s plate. At breakfast, one-fourth of the plate should have a protein or meat, half of the plate should have a starch, and one-fourth of the plate would be empty. The meal should be completed with a milk, yogurt, or fruit.
At lunch and dinner, the plate should show a similar pattern: one-fourth of the plate should have a starch, one-fourth should have a protein or a meat source, and half should be filled with low-calorie vegetables (not “starchy” vegetables, such as potatoes, corn, or peas). On the side of the plate there should be either 1 cup of milk or yogurt or a half-cup of pudding or ice cream, as well as one small piece of fruit (Figure 1).
Using low-calorie seasoning to flavor food, the Plate Method provides approximately 1,200–1,500 calories. This approach is not only easy to use, but also works well when eating outside the home, such as in a restaurant or at a family gathering.
The Plate Method works particularly well for patients who eat three meals a day, are at a low literacy level, have cognitive difficulties, are elderly, have type 2 diabetes and need to lose weight, or are hospitalized and need “survival” information. It also adapts easily for patients who snack by allowing individuals to move side items to snack time. It does not require math skills or a high reading level.
For patients who are abstract thinkers, combination foods, such as casseroles or pizzas, can still be planned by visualizing how the various ingredients in the recipe can be broken down into specific food groups for the plate. For tuna noodle casserole with a salad, for example, half of the plate would have salad, celery, mushrooms, onions, and green peppers (vegetables); one-fourth of the plate would have tuna (protein); and one-fourth would have noodles (starch). When you add the side food groups (milk products and fruit), this is a well-balanced meal.taken from DIABETES SPECTRUM