Portion sizes matter when it comes to a healthy diet, particularly if you have diabetes. With obesity rates at an all-time high in the United States and around the world, we need to examine not only what we eat, but how much we eat. Odds are, your portion sizes may be larger than they should be. Find out what your portions should look like and how to truly take charge of your plate by taking this quiz. (Everyone is different, so be sure to ask your health care provider about your diet and meal portions to determine what is best for you.)
1. True/False: The “plate method” is a strategy that can help you achieve portion control.
2. Controlling the portions on your plate can:
A. Result in healthy weight loss.
B. Lead to a decrease in diabetes medication.
C. Improve blood glucose control.
D. All of the above.
3. Weight loss in people with diabetes who are overweight is associated with which of the following?
A. Decreased muscle tone.
B. Normalized blood glucose levels and a reduced risk of other health problems.
C. Increased LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.
D. An increased risk of hypertension (high blood pressure).
4. How can you estimate portion sizes for your plate?
A. Use measuring cups and measuring spoons. (More than one answer may be correct.)
B. Use food scales.
C. Use the palm of your hand, fist, fingers, and thumb.
D. Eyeball it.
5. Using a smaller plate size does not effectively help individuals control their meal portions.
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1. True. According the American Diabetes Association (ADA), the “plate method” can help you create “perfectly portioned meals with a healthy balance of vegetables, protein and carbohydrates without any counting, calculating, weighing, or measuring…all you need is a plate.” This method suggests you fill one quarter of your plate with protein, one quarter of your plate with whole grains or other whole-food carbohydrates (this could be legumes or low-glycemic fruit, if these are a part of your meal plan), and half your plate with colorful nonstarchy vegetables. The recommended beverage of choice for the plate method is filtered water. Avoid processed foods.
2. D. Portion size is an important determinant of energy intake. In people with type 2 diabetes, weight reduction improves blood glucose control. According to research, portion control tools are effective in leading to weight loss and enable people with diabetes to decrease their blood glucose medications without sacrificing glycemic control.
3. B. According to Diabetes Canada (DC), “Portion size is an important part of weight loss. If you’re overweight or obese, weight loss is the most important and effective way to help normalize blood sugar levels and reduce your risk of other health problems.” DC says you should fill half your plate with vegetables and fruits; people with diabetes should always choose more vegetables than fruits because most vegetables contain less sugar. DC also notes when it comes to your portion of carbs that “Low-glycemic-index foods such as legumes, whole grains, and fruits and vegetables can help control blood sugar…and can make you feel full longer to help with losing weight.”
4. C. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) teaches people how to estimate portion size using their hands. For example:
- 3 ounces of meat, fish or poultry = the palm of the hand (no fingers)
- 1 cup or 1 medium fruit = a fist
- 1 tablespoon = a thumb tip (tip to first joint)
- 1 teaspoon = a fingertip (tip to first joint)
5. False. The results of a study in the journal BMC Obesity showed that using a plate smaller than a traditional dinner plate resulted in participants consuming smaller food portions. This is an effective strategy you can try to help manage your portions. (Just be mindful that portion control plates have the potential to reduce portion sizes of important items — if you implement this strategy, don’t skimp out on your nonstarchy veggies!)
Want to learn more about eating well with diabetes? Read “Strategies for Healthy Eating,” “Improving Your Recipes: One Step at a Time,” and “What Is the Best Diet for Diabetes?”