If you are looking for a no-fuss, flexible way to plan meals, nothing is as simple as the healthy plate method. This approach helps you create balanced meals with no measuring needed.
The healthy plate method makes planning balanced meals a snap
You know it's best to eat the right portions for health and weight loss, yet you may find measuring and counting too overwhelming. The healthy plate method checks all the right boxes easily! This plan works whether you want to limit calories and carbs or just plan balanced and appealing meals.
How to use the plate method
Your plate: size matters
The plate method uses a 9-inch diameter plate closer to the size of your salad plate than your dinner plate. Eating from a smaller plate is a clever, natural way to limit portions without feeling deprived.
Non-starchy veggies: Half your plate
Filling half your plate with veggies means more crunch, more color, and no empty space on your plate as you cut calories.
You can mix two or more different vegetables (e.g., salad and roasted veggies) or double up on one kind. Cooked, steamed, or raw veggies and canned or frozen all count.
There are so many non-starchy veggies to enjoy, including asparagus, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, green beans, lettuce, mushrooms, spinach, and tomatoes.
Tip: Non-starchy veggies include all vegetables except potatoes, corn, peas, and winter squash, which are considered starchy veggies (see below).
Whole grains or starchy veggies: A quarter of your plate
Whole grains include brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, quinoa, whole grain bread, and buckwheat.
Starchy veggies include potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, peas, and winter squash (such as butternut or acorn squash). These vegetables aren't "bad"; it's just that they are higher in carbs and calories than other veggies.
Protein: A quarter of your plate
Protein helps you stay full. One-fourth of a 9-inch plate can hold about three ounces of cooked meat, poultry, or fish, supplying roughly 21 grams of protein.
Additional protein sources include eggs, cheese, tofu, tempeh, edamame, and veggie burgers.
Legumes (dried beans and peas) such as kidney beans, black beans, pinto beans, chickpeas, lentils, and split peas, are filling and heart-healthy protein sources. In contrast to the above protein sources, they do contain carbs.
The plate method allows for a small amount of healthy fat, such as a tablespoon of salad dressing, a drizzle of olive oil, or a sprinkle of nuts or seeds.
Milk, milk substitute, or yogurt: On the side
Milk and yogurt count as carb servings and provide a good protein source.
One serving is one cup of milk or milk substitute, plain or light yogurt, or dairy.
Non-dairy milk substitutes such as soy milk, almond milk, or oat milk vary in carb and protein content.
Fruit: On the side or for dessert
Fruits provide a healthy form of carbohydrates. Choose fresh or frozen fruit over dried fruit or fruit juices to maximize portion size while keeping calories low.
One serving is a small piece of fresh fruit, one cup of berries, half a banana or grapefruit, or two tablespoons of dried fruit.
More tips for using the healthy plate method
If you are watching carbs, note that the plate method provides three "carb choices," or about 45 grams of total carbs per meal.
Following the basic guidelines, the healthy plate method provides about 1200- 1500 calories per day. High-fat starches (such as muffins), higher-fat cuts of meats, and extra fats and sugars add extra calories.
Use the basic proportions of this plan for mixed dishes such as casseroles, stir-fries, or soups.
Although extra veggies at breakfast is a bonus, you can use this same model for planning a healthy breakfast, with the veggies as options.
If you prefer to eat smaller meals, move part of the meal to a snack.
If you want to shed some pounds or trim a few inches, the plate method offers a healthy way to eat balanced meals and lose weight practically without thinking about it!