What real portion sizes look like

When preparing meals, consider these portion sizes:

a nine-inch dinner plate showing what real portion sizes look like

  • pasta/rice: 1/3 cup cooked*
  • meat: 3 ounces
  • cheese: 1 ounce
  • peanut butter/salad dressing: 1 tablespoon
  • butter/mayonnaise: 1 teaspoon

*This portion equals one carbohydrate choice. Most people with diabetes can have three to four carbohydrate choices per meal.

If you choose to have all of your carbohydrate choices in pasta, you will need to avoid other carbohydrate foods (milk, fruit, starchy vegetables and dessert) at that meal.

The pictured foods are on a nine-inch dinner plate:

Nine-inch plate showing one serving of cheese

One serving of cheese.

Nine-inch plate showing one serving of chicken

One serving of chicken.

Nine-inch plate showing one serving of salad dressing

One serving of salad dressing.

Nine-inch plate showing one serving of pasta

One serving of pasta.

Nine-inch plate showing one serving of peanut butter

One serving of peanut butter.

Nine-inch plate showing one serving of butter

One serving of butter.

What should you put on your plate?

When you are planning your meals, try to think about what your plate should look like. Use the example below to help you think about how your plate should look.

For breakfast:

  • half of your plate should be starches
  • the other half should be split between protein and fruit

For lunch and dinner:

  • half of your plate should be full of non-starchy vegetables
  • the other half should be split between protein and starches
  • a small dish of fruit, if you want

Plates and milk

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Basic Skills for Living with Diabetes, sixth edition
First Published: 11/27/2006
Last Reviewed: 01/09/2015