The Perfect PlateFebruary 23rd, 2014 by David
‘The Perfect Plate’ provides a clear guide on how to eat right, without any mention at all of ‘diets’ or deprivation. Take this advice with you and improve the way you eat forever, maintain a healthy weight and help tick all the nutrient-requirement boxes.
Most of us understand the importance of certain nutrients and food groups, and many of us are familiar with the notion of portion control, but which foods should we be portioning off and which should we be piling high? ‘The Perfect Plate’ has all the answers…
First a ‘visual’ exercise for you. Picture your plate. Now divide it in half. Choose one side and fill it with vegetables. Vegetables are the foods on which to place no limits. They are the mineral and vitamin- pumped products which also provide a generous pop of water and fibre whilst remaining gloriously tight on calories. Focus on colour and variety, and strive for a flash of green to accompany every meal. The only veggies to place restrictions on are starchy spuds – which in this case fall into our ‘carbohydrate camp’ anyway. (- to be detailed in just a moment…) Half of the perfect plate is reserved for vegetables, and sometimes fruits – about 1-2 portions from the fruit bowl a day; ideally the rest of your fresh food focus should be vegetable shaped.
Now turn your attention to the empty half of your imaginary plate. Divide it in half to create 2 quarters. Cram one quarter with protein. This is the food group that you must not scrimp on. Every meal should consist of some sort of protein – fish, eggs, poultry, yoghurt, meat, beans, nuts – these are all examples of protein foods. One portion of protein is equal to a palm-sized piece of fish or meat, 2 eggs or 200g beans. Protein helps slow down the release of energy from your meals, and it is required to rev up your brain cells and build and repair your body on a minute-by-minute, day-to-day basis.
The remaining plate quarter is for your carbohydrates. Always opt for unrefined, ‘whole grain’ versions like brown rice and quinoa. If you’re partial to a potato, opt for sweet potato over its white cousin for a heftier hit of fibre and nutrients. These are the foods which will help to you to re-fuel, however you do not require large portions of grains or potatoes if you have plenty of the ‘right’ fats, protein and vegetables on your plate. Although we would never recommend cutting this food group out entirely, if you are going down the portion control route, then carbs are the ones to be sacrificed. No more than a quarter of your plate should consist of carbohydrates, and if you are trying to lose weight, a maximum of two tablespoons should feature at each sitting.
Are you wondering where your fats should go? Fats are contained in protein and vegetable foods – like oily fish, nuts, seeds, avocados, seed oils, and olives. To reach your quota of the ‘right’ fats, ensure that you get some of the following foods in your meals… If you have eggs, opt for organic, if you have a salad, slice some avocado and olives into it and drizzle with seed oil and chia. If you’re having fish, go for salmon, sardines or mackerel and make sure a green leafy vegetable makes an appearance on your every plate!
A quick recap to ensure that it is etched on your brain – half of your plate is for vegetables, quarter is for protein and the remaining quarter for ‘whole’ unrefined carbohydrates. Fats can hop into either veggie or protein camp of your plate, depending on which food you are delivering them in.