The Healthy Eating Plate, created at Harvard School of Public Health, serves as a guide to help us consume healthy, balanced meals. The focus is on portion percentages, portion control, and quality of diet.
Portion Percentages: The recommended plate balance is:
Fill ½ your plate with fruits & veggies. The more colorful, the better, because different colors indicate different nutrient profiles.
Fill ¼ of your plate with whole & intact grains, such as oats, barley, & brown rice.
Fill ¼ of your plate with protein, such as fish, chicken, beans, & nuts.
Portion Control: Caloric and nutritional needs vary for each individual based upon several factors, such as: height, weight, body type, age, gender, and activity level. What is pretty much the same for all of us living in the U.S., however, is that our portion sizes have grown increasingly large over the past several years. In fact, 96% of U.S. restaurant meals exceed the USDA recommendations for fat, salt, and caloric intake. Consider the following:
In the 1980’s, the average turkey sandwich contained 320 calories. Fast forward to today and the average turkey sandwich has grown in size and packs a whopping 820 calories.
In 1955, McDonald’s offered a 7 ounce size fountain drink. Fast forward 50+ years to 2007, and this same fast food chain unveiled a 42 ounce drink called the Hugo containing an incredible 410 calories.
There are several on line calorie calculators that will enable you to learn your daily caloric needs to maintain (or alter) your current weight. Appropriate portion control goes a long way toward reaching, but not exceeding, these daily needs. For example, it is estimated that a serving of protein (chicken, fish) should not exceed 3 ounces, roughly the size of the palm of your hand or a deck of cards. If you’re eating out, and the portion sizes exceed this standard, consider eating only some of your meal and bringing the rest home. If you’re cooking, consider covering a small plate with appropriately sized portions (versus serving on a larger plate that looks half empty).
Quality of Diet: Avoid selecting foods solely based upon their caloric value, and also consider the quality of what you’re consuming to fuel your body.
The three main macronutrients (carbs, proteins, fats) tend to dominate any conversation about food quality and dietary choices, yet these variables do not impact everyone the same. That is why there is no “one size fits all” diet. Nonetheless, we all benefit from opting for fresh and minimally processed foods rich in fiber and nutrients, and minimizing our consumption of processed foods high in starches, refined grains, fats, and sugars.
Examples of processed foods include:
processed carbs from sugars & grains
refined foods with white flour, white sugar, high fructose corn syrup
partially hydrogenated oils
sugary beverages, such as sodas/colas
The above is a very broad introduction to healthy eating habits that we hope motivates you to conduct your own independent research or perhaps even consult with a nutritionist to help guide your efforts to eat right and eat healthy!
Disclaimer: This email is not intended to give medical advice.