Wellness iNPractice Diabetes

How Do You Build a Healthy Meal?

Patients are often told, “You need to eat better, you need to eat healthier;” however, patients are rarely provided all the information and tools necessary to make this happen. Many patients may have difficulty understanding how what they eat can help them control their blood glucose. Most people struggle with knowing what makes a good food choice and why, and what makes up the right healthy portion size. There are many interactive tools that have been developed to help patients better understand the nutritional value of specific foods, how much of each kind of food to eat, and how to combine foods into healthy meals. 

Below are descriptions of a handful of these tools that are available online. You can visit these sites with your patients while they are in your office so you can build an example of a healthy meal with them and then invite them to visit the sites on their own or with their families to build healthy eating into their daily routine.

Meal building and nutrition tracker tools

Create Your Plate is an online interactive tool developed by the American Diabetes Association to help patients visualize what a healthy meal would look like. Patients select from a list of common proteins, grains and starchy foods, and non-starchy vegetables, which appear on a 9-inch dinner plate in the appropriate portion sizes. 

The ADA has outlined 7 steps for people with diabetes to create their plate with appropriate portion sizes at home:

  1. Put a line down the middle of your dinner plate. Then on one side, cut it in half again so you will have three sections on your plate.
  2. Fill the largest section with non-starchy vegetables.
  3. In one of the small sections, put grains and starchy foods.
  4. In the other small section, put your protein.
  5. Add a serving of fruit, a serving of dairy, or both as your meal plan allows.
  6. Choose healthy fats in small amounts. For cooking, use oils. For salads, some healthy additions are nuts, seeds, avocados, and vinaigrettes.
  7. To complete your meal, add a low-calorie drink like water, unsweetened tea, or coffee.

The GoMeals® online and mobile app was designed specifically for patients with diabetes to help them make healthy lifestyle choices. It features a food tracker linked to a database of more than 40,000 common foods and 20,000 restaurant menu items. Patients can select foods to add to their plate, which keeps track of the percentage of carbs, protein, and fat, and the total calories consumed throughout the day. The online version of GoMeals allows patients to track how they are doing, and share their progress with you. 

When you get to the GoMeals website, click on “Sign Up” in the upper right-hand corner of the screen to set up your patient with a free account. The patient will need to choose a password to use, and share information such as age, height, and weight to create a profile. For the smartphone app, the patient will need to go to the app store and download the app. They can use the same login information that they used to set up their account online. 

Choose My Plate introduces patients to a simple graphic that illustrates portion sizes and how much of each food group should be combined to make a healthy meal. 

The USDA SuperTracker tool features a database of detailed nutritional information for more than 8,000 foods, as well as sample meal plans and a food and activity tracker tool.