Beginner’s Guide to a Diabetic Diet – The Plate Method

foods with high carb content

Today, an estimated 347 million people worldwide are diabetic, according to the World Health Organisation. In 1985, the number was at 30 million. That’s a 317 million increase over 2 decades, which is staggering if you really think about it.

Closer to home, 58% of new dialysis patients in Malaysia in 2009 were diabetics. Diabetes and hypertension are the most common causes of end-stage renal disease in Malaysia.

It’s about time we start paying attention to these stats. And the first step would be to be careful with your diet.

If you’ve just been diagnosed with diabetes type 2, you’re probably also extra concerned with carbs, as they turn into glucose, which causes your blood sugar to spike. However, this doesn’t mean you should avoid carbs altogether if you’re a diabetic.

Carbohydrates help to form a healthy and important part of a nutritious diet. The trick is to plan your meals right.

The most basic way to begin eating a healthy diabetic diet is to apply the Plate Method. It gives you an idea on the appropriate carb intake for each of your meals. You’ll find carbs mostly in plant foods like grains, fruits and vegetables, as well as dairy products

Here’s a handy chart to identify your carbs and how you should include them in the Plate method:

foods with high carb content

The Plate Method (on a 9-inch plate):

1. Half a plate of non-starchy (low carb) vegetables
Greens, carrots, tomatoes, cabbage, cauliflower, etc
2. Quarter plate of healthy carbs (palm-sized)
Brown rice, noodles, meehoon, whole grain pastas and breads etc
3. Quarter plate of lean protein
Meat, chicken, fish, eggs

In addition, you’ll need to include around two pieces of fruit each day, a balanced portion of whole grains, legumes, low-fat dairy products, lean meat, and fish to better manage the diabetes.

Learn more about diabetes or check out these sumptuous diabetic diet-friendly desserts.



The American Diabetes Association recommends that 45-65% of total energy intake for diabetics come from carbohydrates. However, the amount of carb intake varies between individuals. How much carbs you need depends on your age, body composition, lipid and glucose levels, activity patterns, medications, as well as other medical concerns.
While The Plate Method is a great way to contain your carbs, it’s best to consult a dietitian to get personalised advice as everyone’s needs are unique.


What’s your favourite low carb food? Or do you have a guilty pleasure you simply can’t do without? Let us know in the comment below!


Edited by: The HealthWorks Team
Contributed by: Syaidatun Yahya, Dietitian, National Kidney Foundation of Malaysia

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