What's on Your Plate? Eating Well and Losing Weight

Reviewed Mar 25, 2019

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Summary

Healthy plate:

  • ½ plate of fruits and vegetables
  • ¼ plate of protein 
  • ¼ plate of starches/grains

Eating healthier can help with weight loss, disease prevention, and overall well-being. But where do you start? With one plate at a time. Choosing the right array of foods on your plate can improve your eating habits for life.

Not a diet

The following guidelines allow you to eat plenty of food. You can even eat foods that some fad diets ban. Try the plan at dinner for the next three weeks. Later, add the changes to breakfast and lunch.

As easy as 1-2-3

Your menu should fill a dinner plate divided into the following three sections:

  • ½ plate of fruits and vegetables.
  • ¼ plate of protein. Three to four ounces of meat, about the size of a deck of cards.
  • ¼ plate of starches/grains. These include whole grains, pasta, rice, bread, potatoes, tortillas, beans. Beans count as protein, too. The serving should be no more than one inch in height.

Avoid fattening toppings like oil and butter, or use them sparingly. If you are still hungry after your meal, allow yourself one more plate of fruits and vegetables only.

A variation is:

  • 2/3 plate or more of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans.
  • 1/3 plate or less of animal protein.

Sample plates

The divided plates above leave plenty of freedom to choose from your favorite foods. Still need help getting started? See if any of these general menus give you ideas:

Traditional meat and potatoes

  • ¼ plate broccoli and ¼ plate apple and orange wedges.
  • Three to four ounces of grilled chicken. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and favorite seasonings before grilling.
  • One medium baked potato with low-fat toppings.

Pasta combinations

  • ¼ plate plain pasta, maximum one-inch height. Top with tomato sauce that includes red and yellow peppers and a small amount of lean ground beef. The sauce shouldn’t take up more than ¼ plate if eaten alone.
  • Fill the rest of your plate with your favorite melon and whole green beans.

What about junk food and dessert?

Dividing your plate does not mean banning French fries and other fattening foods. If you want chips with your lunch, limit the portion to ¼ of the plate. Don’t pile them on more than one inch in height. Of course this means you’ve used up your starch limit for the meal. Put your tuna salad or turkey slices on a bed of lettuce rather than bread. It’s fine to honor your cravings for treats occasionally and in moderation. Otherwise you might not stick to healthier overall eating.

Eating out and having fun

Here is a sample way to apply the divided plate guidelines at a restaurant and still enjoy yourself:

  • ¼ plate of French fries.
  • No more than ½ plate of grilled chicken salad. Ask for low-fat dressing on the side to dip into. Don’t eat more than ¼ plate’s worth of the chicken portion
  • ¼ plate of fruit or vegetables. Avoid creamed vegetables.

Be moderate in your choices and portions of snacks and desserts.

The MyPlate plan

Filling your plate with the right foods and portions will meet your nutritional needs. The United States Department of Agriculture's MyPlate plan advises you to choose whole grain breads, pastas, and cereals. Choosing low- and non-fat dairy products is also important.

Talk to your doctor if you have health concerns that dietary changes might interfere with. A registered dietician can give you specific tips. Remember, try the plan for dinner only, for just three weeks. As you discover how easy and satisfying the divided plate plan is, you might want to try it at other meals.

Resources

ChooseMyPlate
www.choosemyplate.gov

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
www.eatright.org 

By Laurie M. Stewart
Source: Janis Jibrin (April, 2002) "Plate Power." Prevention, 150-155; Rita Smith, registered dietician and certified diabetes educator, Martha Jefferson Hospital, Charlottesville, VA
Reviewed by Maria F. Rodowski-Stanco, MD, Associate Medical Director, Beacon Health Options

Summary

Healthy plate:

  • ½ plate of fruits and vegetables
  • ¼ plate of protein 
  • ¼ plate of starches/grains

Eating healthier can help with weight loss, disease prevention, and overall well-being. But where do you start? With one plate at a time. Choosing the right array of foods on your plate can improve your eating habits for life.

Not a diet

The following guidelines allow you to eat plenty of food. You can even eat foods that some fad diets ban. Try the plan at dinner for the next three weeks. Later, add the changes to breakfast and lunch.

As easy as 1-2-3

Your menu should fill a dinner plate divided into the following three sections:

  • ½ plate of fruits and vegetables.
  • ¼ plate of protein. Three to four ounces of meat, about the size of a deck of cards.
  • ¼ plate of starches/grains. These include whole grains, pasta, rice, bread, potatoes, tortillas, beans. Beans count as protein, too. The serving should be no more than one inch in height.

Avoid fattening toppings like oil and butter, or use them sparingly. If you are still hungry after your meal, allow yourself one more plate of fruits and vegetables only.

A variation is:

  • 2/3 plate or more of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans.
  • 1/3 plate or less of animal protein.

Sample plates

The divided plates above leave plenty of freedom to choose from your favorite foods. Still need help getting started? See if any of these general menus give you ideas:

Traditional meat and potatoes

  • ¼ plate broccoli and ¼ plate apple and orange wedges.
  • Three to four ounces of grilled chicken. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and favorite seasonings before grilling.
  • One medium baked potato with low-fat toppings.

Pasta combinations

  • ¼ plate plain pasta, maximum one-inch height. Top with tomato sauce that includes red and yellow peppers and a small amount of lean ground beef. The sauce shouldn’t take up more than ¼ plate if eaten alone.
  • Fill the rest of your plate with your favorite melon and whole green beans.

What about junk food and dessert?

Dividing your plate does not mean banning French fries and other fattening foods. If you want chips with your lunch, limit the portion to ¼ of the plate. Don’t pile them on more than one inch in height. Of course this means you’ve used up your starch limit for the meal. Put your tuna salad or turkey slices on a bed of lettuce rather than bread. It’s fine to honor your cravings for treats occasionally and in moderation. Otherwise you might not stick to healthier overall eating.

Eating out and having fun

Here is a sample way to apply the divided plate guidelines at a restaurant and still enjoy yourself:

  • ¼ plate of French fries.
  • No more than ½ plate of grilled chicken salad. Ask for low-fat dressing on the side to dip into. Don’t eat more than ¼ plate’s worth of the chicken portion
  • ¼ plate of fruit or vegetables. Avoid creamed vegetables.

Be moderate in your choices and portions of snacks and desserts.

The MyPlate plan

Filling your plate with the right foods and portions will meet your nutritional needs. The United States Department of Agriculture's MyPlate plan advises you to choose whole grain breads, pastas, and cereals. Choosing low- and non-fat dairy products is also important.

Talk to your doctor if you have health concerns that dietary changes might interfere with. A registered dietician can give you specific tips. Remember, try the plan for dinner only, for just three weeks. As you discover how easy and satisfying the divided plate plan is, you might want to try it at other meals.

Resources

ChooseMyPlate
www.choosemyplate.gov

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
www.eatright.org 

By Laurie M. Stewart
Source: Janis Jibrin (April, 2002) "Plate Power." Prevention, 150-155; Rita Smith, registered dietician and certified diabetes educator, Martha Jefferson Hospital, Charlottesville, VA
Reviewed by Maria F. Rodowski-Stanco, MD, Associate Medical Director, Beacon Health Options

Summary

Healthy plate:

  • ½ plate of fruits and vegetables
  • ¼ plate of protein 
  • ¼ plate of starches/grains

Eating healthier can help with weight loss, disease prevention, and overall well-being. But where do you start? With one plate at a time. Choosing the right array of foods on your plate can improve your eating habits for life.

Not a diet

The following guidelines allow you to eat plenty of food. You can even eat foods that some fad diets ban. Try the plan at dinner for the next three weeks. Later, add the changes to breakfast and lunch.

As easy as 1-2-3

Your menu should fill a dinner plate divided into the following three sections:

  • ½ plate of fruits and vegetables.
  • ¼ plate of protein. Three to four ounces of meat, about the size of a deck of cards.
  • ¼ plate of starches/grains. These include whole grains, pasta, rice, bread, potatoes, tortillas, beans. Beans count as protein, too. The serving should be no more than one inch in height.

Avoid fattening toppings like oil and butter, or use them sparingly. If you are still hungry after your meal, allow yourself one more plate of fruits and vegetables only.

A variation is:

  • 2/3 plate or more of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans.
  • 1/3 plate or less of animal protein.

Sample plates

The divided plates above leave plenty of freedom to choose from your favorite foods. Still need help getting started? See if any of these general menus give you ideas:

Traditional meat and potatoes

  • ¼ plate broccoli and ¼ plate apple and orange wedges.
  • Three to four ounces of grilled chicken. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and favorite seasonings before grilling.
  • One medium baked potato with low-fat toppings.

Pasta combinations

  • ¼ plate plain pasta, maximum one-inch height. Top with tomato sauce that includes red and yellow peppers and a small amount of lean ground beef. The sauce shouldn’t take up more than ¼ plate if eaten alone.
  • Fill the rest of your plate with your favorite melon and whole green beans.

What about junk food and dessert?

Dividing your plate does not mean banning French fries and other fattening foods. If you want chips with your lunch, limit the portion to ¼ of the plate. Don’t pile them on more than one inch in height. Of course this means you’ve used up your starch limit for the meal. Put your tuna salad or turkey slices on a bed of lettuce rather than bread. It’s fine to honor your cravings for treats occasionally and in moderation. Otherwise you might not stick to healthier overall eating.

Eating out and having fun

Here is a sample way to apply the divided plate guidelines at a restaurant and still enjoy yourself:

  • ¼ plate of French fries.
  • No more than ½ plate of grilled chicken salad. Ask for low-fat dressing on the side to dip into. Don’t eat more than ¼ plate’s worth of the chicken portion
  • ¼ plate of fruit or vegetables. Avoid creamed vegetables.

Be moderate in your choices and portions of snacks and desserts.

The MyPlate plan

Filling your plate with the right foods and portions will meet your nutritional needs. The United States Department of Agriculture's MyPlate plan advises you to choose whole grain breads, pastas, and cereals. Choosing low- and non-fat dairy products is also important.

Talk to your doctor if you have health concerns that dietary changes might interfere with. A registered dietician can give you specific tips. Remember, try the plan for dinner only, for just three weeks. As you discover how easy and satisfying the divided plate plan is, you might want to try it at other meals.

Resources

ChooseMyPlate
www.choosemyplate.gov

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
www.eatright.org 

By Laurie M. Stewart
Source: Janis Jibrin (April, 2002) "Plate Power." Prevention, 150-155; Rita Smith, registered dietician and certified diabetes educator, Martha Jefferson Hospital, Charlottesville, VA
Reviewed by Maria F. Rodowski-Stanco, MD, Associate Medical Director, Beacon Health Options

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, assessments, and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical or health care advice. Nothing contained on the Achieve Solutions site is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care professional. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider.  ©2019 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

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