Here are two easy ways to plan a healthy plate.
1) The Healthy Plate Model
This is a simple way to visually figure what to put on your plate to make a healthy meal. We break the plate down into 3 parts: non-starchy vegetables, protein and starches. Fat is not part of the picture but make sure you include a little bit of it. It’s so dense, the amount visually is too small to make up a portion of the plate.
Non-starchy vegetables (broccoli, greens, carrots, green beans, onions, bell peppers, lettuce, etc) should fill half your plate. A protein (chicken breast, fish, turkey, pork loin, tofu, ground meat, etc) will fill ¼ of your plate. The final ¼ is filled with a healthy starch (beans, quinoa, whole grain, winter squash, sweet potato, etc). When considering the volume of fat – think of the volume of your thumb – include 1-2 servings depending on your size and caloric needs. Don’t forget to include any fat in the protein source in that calculation.
If fat loss is a goal, skip the ¼ portion of starch at least once per day. If batch cooking for lunches or dinners, a 3-compartment container can be helpful but isn’t an absolute. Portioning out the meals whether in a 3-compartment container or other containers is really important to set yourself up for success and make sure you don’t eat more than planned/necessary. If you don’t know how much you should be eating, follow the next section to help you learn appropriate amounts to better hone in total volume.
2) The Hand Model for Portioning a Healthy Plate
This is my favorite way to easily plan out what and how much to have on your plate. This can be an eye-opening experience for some people, seeing and learning that they should include more of some foods and less of others.
Look at your hand. The size and width of your palm is the amount of cooked protein you want at meals. Ball your hands into fists. You want at least 1 fistful of non-starchy vegetables at each meal. You will want at least 2 fistfuls if you skip starch. Fat is measured by your thumb’s size. 1-2 servings of fat is appropriate at most meals. If you’re smaller and not exercising most every day, stick to 1 thumb per meal. If you’re taller and exercising most days of the week, you probably want more toward 2 thumbs worth at each meal. Finally cup your hand. Look at the inside of your cupped hand – that’s the volume of starch to have. You can also have fruit (same volume) instead of starch on occasion.
Again if fat loss is a goal, pay most attention to the volume of starch and the volume of fat. Those tend to be the easiest ones to trip up healthy fat loss goals.
Feel free to reach out if you have any questions and let us know how this goes for you!