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The Prediabetes Nutritionist

T-plate method-An easier way to control your portions

An Easier Way to Control Your Portions (Better than Counting Calories)

Controlling your portions can help you lose weight and reduce your blood glucose levels if you have prediabetes. Although counting calories works for some, it can be tedious, time-consuming, and stressful, especially when out with friends and family. But don’t worry. There’s an easier way to manage your portions – the T-plate method! It encourages you to eat balanced meals and, better yet, can be a game-changer for controlling your blood glucose!

Why balanced meals are important

Balanced meals contain low-glycemic carbohydrates, healthy fats, lean proteins, and fibre in the correct proportions (Cena and Calder, 2020). 

Carbohydrates are the body’s primary energy source; they play a vital role in brain function, digestion, and metabolism (Holesh et al., 2023). When you consume carbohydrates, your body breaks them down into glucose, which enters the bloodstream.

Foods high in carbohydrates, such as rice, pasta, potatoes, and yams, raise blood glucose relatively quickly compared to foods rich in protein and fat (Russell et al., 2016). Eating large portions of high-carbohydrate foods regularly can lead to high blood glucose levels and weight gain since your body converts excess carbohydrates into fat (Parks, 2001). 

One way to avoid high blood glucose from carbohydrates is to add protein, vegetables, and healthy fats to meals, as they can slow down the digestion of carbohydrates, releasing glucose into the bloodstream at a slower rate (Kim et al., 2019). This way, blood glucose levels remain stable, you feel more satisfied, and the risk of overeating is reduced. 

And this is where the T-plate method fits in!

What is the T-plate method?

T-plate method

The T-Plate method is a simple and effective way to eat balanced meals in the right proportions to keep your blood glucose stable.

It involves filling half the plate with leafy vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, aubergines, mushrooms or fruit such as apples, pears or berries. You can combine fruits and vegetables. Next, you divide the other half into two sections. Fill one section with starchy carbohydrates such as rice, bulgur wheat, plantains, or potatoes and the other with lean proteins like meat, chicken, fish, eggs, tofu or beans (USDA).

You also need to add small amounts of healthy fats such as nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil, avocado oil, or rapeseed oil; fats contribute to satiety and help absorb essential fat-soluble vitamins (Field and Robinson, 2019). 

Using the T-plate method, you can enjoy a variety of foods while maintaining a healthy diet and stable blood glucose levels.

As a guide, use a 9-inch-sized plate if you’re a woman and a 10-inch-sized plate if you’re a man. Avoid second helpings where possible, or you might eat large portions, giving you carbohydrates and more calories and may not support your health goals. If you’re still hungry after meals, try eating more vegetables and proteins first; they will satisfy you more than carbohydrates and stabilise your blood glucose levels.

What Foods Can You Put on Your Plate? 

To create a well-balanced meal, include a diverse range of foods on your plate, such as starchy carbohydrates, whole grains, lean proteins, legumes, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. Choose whole, unprocessed foods to ensure your meals are nutrient-dense. Below is a non-exhaustive list of foods you can incorporate into your meals. Remember, this list is not exhaustive. 

Wholegrains and Starchy VegetablesProteinsLeafy VegetablesNuts, Seeds & OilsFruit
Brown rice
Bulgur wheat
Plantain
Yam
Wholegrain couscous
Wholewheat pasta
Sweet potatoes
Quinoa
Spelt
Rye
Corn
Beetroot
Parnsips
Pumpkin
Butternut squash
Maize
Sorghum
Millet

Lean beef
Chicken
Veal
Eggs
Yoghurt
Fish
Shrimp
Beans
Lentils
Peas
Tofu
Tempeh








Green
Okra
Broccoli
Cauliflower
Aubergine
Spinach
Ugwu
Kale
Mushrooms
Spring greens
Brussels sprouts
Onions
Green beans
Peppers
Tomatoes
Courgettes
Cucumber
Salad leaves


Almonds
Avocado
Cashews
Pistachios
Peanuts
Sunflower seeds
Egusi
Pumpkin seeds
Chia seeds
Flaxseeds
Hazlenuts
Ogbono
Avocado oil
Olive oil
Rapeseed oil
Coconut oil*
Palm oil*



Apples
Agbalumo
Banana
Orange
Soursop
Papaya
Pineapple
Mandarin
Pear
Cherries
Blueberries
Passionfruit
Dragron fruit
Persimmon
Strawberries
Kiwi
Watermelon
Mango



* Be mindful of how often you use tropical oils like coconut and palm oil. While they contain health-promoting nutrients like medium-chain fatty acids (in coconut oil) and beta-carotene (in palm oil), they are rich in saturated fats and may raise cholesterol levels. You can use them sparingly and in small portions. 

Need to know how to use the T-plate method when eating Nigerian or African meals? Check out the African T-plate guide!

In Summary

The T-plate method is an easy and practical way to control your portions and maintain a healthy diet. You can ensure your meals are balanced and nourishing by choosing whole, unprocessed foods and using the recommended plate sizes.

Small changes can make a big difference, and these small changes can significantly impact your well-being. So, give it a try! Start using the T-plate method to control your portions and improve your health, and don’t forget to let us know how you get on!

REFERENCES

  1. Cena, H., & Calder, P. C. (2020). Defining a Healthy Diet: Evidence for the Role of Contemporary Dietary Patterns in Health and Disease. Nutrients, 12(2). https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12020334
  2. Holesh, J.E., Aslam, S., & Martin, A. (2023) Physiology, Carbohydrates. Available: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK459280/ Last accessed: 30 December 2023.
  3. Russell, W.R., Baka, A., Bjorck, I., Delzenne, N., Gao, D., Griffiths, H., et al., (2016) Impact of diet composition on blood glucose regulation. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 56(4): 541-590. Https://doi.org/10.1080/10408398.2013.792772.
  4. Parks, E. (2001) Effect of dietary carbohydrate on triglyceride metabolism in humans. The Journal of Nutrition, 131(10): P2882s-2774S. Https://doi.org/10.1093/jn/131.10.2772S.
  5. Campos, V., Tappy, L., Bally, L., Sievenpiper, J. L., & Lê, A. (2022). Importance of Carbohydrate Quality: What Does It Mean and How to Measure It? The Journal of Nutrition, 152(5), 1200-1206. https://doi.org/10.1093/jn/nxac039
  6. Kim, J. S., Nam, K., & Chung, J. (2019). Effect of nutrient composition in a mixed meal on the postprandial glycemic response in healthy people: A preliminary study. Nutrition Research and Practice, 13(2), 126-133. https://doi.org/10.4162/nrp.2019.13.2.126.
  7. Field, C. J., & Robinson, L. (2019). Dietary Fats. Advances in Nutrition, 10(4), 722-724. https://doi.org/10.1093/advances/nmz052
  8. U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) My Plate. Available: https://ww.myplate.gov/eat-healthy/what-is-myplate. Last accessed: 30 December 2023. 

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