plate divided into 3 labeled parts according to the plate method: proteins, whole grains, fruits and vegetables

The Plate Method: How To Make Healthy Eating Simple

What’s the plate method?

The plate method is a simple way to achieve well-balanced meals. It uses a plate for visual guidance to compose a healthy meal.

The plate method: plate with labels, proteins, whole grains, vegetables and fruits.

The plate method was first described in 1970 in Sweden for meal planning. It was based on the idea that visualising all food groups on a plate could help people make healthier food choices. In the 1980’s, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) developed a similar plate model for diabetes meal planning. In the early 1990’s, the Idaho Diabetes Council adapted the ADA plate model to create the Idaho Plate Method. Many health institutions adapted the plate method since, as an educative tool to prevent diabetes and heart disease and promote healthy nutrition. The plate method is an excellent tool to learn how to eat healthy. It’s recommended in food dietary guidelines by the USDA’s MyPlate and Canada’s food guide.

How to use the plate method?

the plate method: three plates , vegetables and fruits, whole grains, fruits.

The plate method has been widely recognized as an effective tool for healthy eating. By following the plate method, you ensure getting balanced food intakes. The plate method is a flexible guideline. It was adapted with many variation, some including a side portion for diary or fruits.

At JustaPlate, we chose to present the simplest, yet wholesome version of the plate method. Start by choosing your plate. The recommended plate size is 9 inches (23 cm), but you can use a bigger or smaller plate depending on your needs.

Divide the plate into three zones:

  • 1/2 of the plate: Vegetables and fruits.
  • 1/4 of the plate: Whole Grains.
  • 1/4 of the plate: Proteins.

Vegetables and fruits

plate method: fruits and vegetables

Vegetables and fruits are sources of vitamins, minerals and fiber. Fill half of the plate with various vegetables and fruits and aim for the vegetable part to be bigger than the fruits. If you want your plate to be diabetes friendly, choose non-starchy vegetables like broccoli, aubergine and zucchini. They are lower in carbs and have a lower impact on blood sugar. In this case, starchy vegetables such as potatoes can be added to the whole grains zone of the plate.

Whole grains

Whole grain bread and rolls, whole wheat pasta, grains, nuts, seeds, oatmeal, oats, crackers, barley and bran flakes.

Fill one quarter of the plate with whole grains foods like barley, brown rice, bulgur and quinoa. Whole grains are seeds that retain all their parts (bran, germ and endosperm). They are a high-quality source of carbohydrates, rich in fiber, B vitamins and minerals.
Unlike refined grains (white bread, white rice, …), whole grains maintain a steady level of blood sugar. The fiber will slow down carbs’ breakdown into glucose and prevent spikes.


Plant based protein sources.

Fill the remaining quarter with protein foods. Proteins include animal sources like meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy products. They also can be plant-based, such as lentils, nuts, seeds and soy foods.
Plant-based protein foods provide more fiber and minerals and are lower in saturated fats, which affect cholesterol blood levels positively. When choosing animal protein sources, aim for lean and low-fat meats, limit red meat and avoid processed meats like hot dogs and bacon.
Grains (millet, oats, cashews, … ) and some vegetables (broccoli, spinach, asparagus…) are also sources of proteins in smaller amounts.

Healthy fats

Healthy fat source.

Fats are an essential element of any balanced diet, as long as they are healthy and used in moderation.
Make plant-based fats such as olives, avocados, nuts and seeds a part of your plate. These fats (unsaturated fats) have beneficial health effects.
When adding animal foods to your plate, be aware of the hidden fats. Meats and dairy products are high in fats (saturated fats) that can raise cholesterol levels and increase the risk of heart disease.
Avoid ultra-processed foods. They usually contain harmful fats (artificial trans fats). These fats can increase the risk of health problems like heart disease and inflammation. Unhealthy fats can be found in various products such as fried fast foods, bakery products and frozen pizza.


Water glass jug with glass.

The ideal drink you can associate with your meal is a glass of water. Water is essential for the body to function properly. Avoid sugary drinks (soda, fruit juice, diet drinks, … ). They are loaded with empty calories and have no nutrition benefits.

What are the benefits of the plate method?

Plate method, clean eating, plant based healthy diet with greens, salad, chickpeas and vegetables.

The plate method is simple, flexible and easy to use. It doesn’t require calculating, calorie counting, food weighing or servings measuring. It is a stress-free tool for people who want to build awareness of their eating habits.
The plate method focuses on whole food and a quality diet. It doesn’t promote restrictive diets. The plate method helps compose balanced meals, including various foods from different sources.

The plate method is suitable for everyone. Whether you are a meat-eater, a vegetarian or a vegan, what you eat will fit on the plate.

Plate method for weight loss

The plate method can be used for weight management. It’s an effective tool for portions control. The recommended plate size is a 9 inches plate (23 cm), but you can use a bigger or smaller plate depending on your needs. Using the plate method helps to eliminate empty calories foods and unhealthy fats. It also promotes fiber and protein rich foods. The plate method will help you stay full and satisfied.
When combined with regular physical activity, the plate method can help build a healthy and balanced lifestyle.

Expending the plate method

various food multiple dishes

Although the plate method is usually represented on a single dinner plate, it can be applied to any meal (breakfast, snack). The plate proportions can be used as a reference to compose all dishes.
You can expend the plate method and apply the logic of the plate to multi-course meals, one-pot foods, Buddha bowls, soups and sandwiches.
The plate method can also apply to various food cultures: Indian dhal, Mexican chilli and Spanish tapas.
The plate method will help you stick to long-term and sustainable eating habits.

The bottom line

The plate method is a simple tool to create balanced meals. It is an effective way to eat healthier. The plate method is suitable for everyone. It will help you build a sustainable approach to eating.

JustaPlate is a meal tracker app based on the plate method. It available for both iOS and android.

If you are seeking to improve your eating habits, download JustaPlate today. Start your meal tracking journey toward a healthier lifestyle.

ios download button
android download button

JustaPlate is a meal tracker app based on the plate method. It available for both iOS and android.

If you are seeking to improve your eating habits, download JustaPlate today. Start your meal tracking journey toward a healthier lifestyle.

ios download button
android download button
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