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Home > Health> Wellness > The perfect plate of food should look like this

The perfect plate of food should look like this

To wrap up National Nutrition Week, we help you simplify meal planning by following these basic steps

The perfect plate: vegetables, carbohydrates and proteins
The perfect plate: vegetables, carbohydrates and proteins (Chris Ralston, Unsplash)

National Nutrition Week is coming to an end, but eating right—as we all know—is something that needs to be for life. Diets come and go, and believe me, I've tried many of them, but in the end, it is these basic precepts of good nutrition that stay: eat your vegetables and fruits, get in enough protein, choose whole grains over refined food, eat good fats. However, if this sound too vague, there is an easier way to plan your meals right, one that I've found tremendously useful while trying to lose weight. All it takes is getting what I think of as the perfect plate consistently. 

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Not that this is a new or original concept, of course. In 2011, then first lady, Michelle Obama, replaced the famous food pyramid with something simpler—MyPlate—as part of her campaign against childhood obesity. The guide, intended to help parents plan healthy meals for their children, consists of a colourful divided plate, each representing a particular food group. In 2018, Suzy Wengel, a Denmark-based nutritionist, came up with the Scandi Sense Diet, touted to be “the simplest diet in the world.” Wengel, who lost over ninety pounds with this diet, measured various components of her meal, by hand, literally. A perfect “meal box”, as she called it, consisted of a couple of handfuls of vegetables, one of protein, one of grain and two or three tablespoons of fat. Also, up to 10 ounces of milk products were allowed per day. The well-known Diabetes Plate Method is also based on the same idea, dividing a plate into non-starchy vegetables, lean protein and carbohydrate food, with water or a low-calorie drink on the side. 

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Ready to start creating the perfect plate? Read on

  1. Choose a plate around 9 inches in diameter on average. If you have a smaller calorific requirement, take a smaller plate; if you can eat more—gender, size and activity play a big role in this—pick up something larger.
  2. Divide your plate, mentally, into three parts: one half and two quarters
  3. Fill half your plate with vegetables, preferably non-starchy ones like cauliflower, broccoli, spinach, kale, tomatoes, beans, squash and cucumber. These can be both raw or cooked.
  4. Choose a carbohydrate source—this could be a grain, a fruit or a starchy vegetable like potato or sweet potato—to fill one-quarter of the plate.
  5. Throw in some protein. Lean sources like chicken or eggs are better but the occasional piece of red meat isn’t terrible either. If you are vegetarian or vegan, you could eat soy or legumes.
  6. A small amount of dairy and good fats like cold-pressed oils, nuts, avocado or seeds can be added.
  7. You can increase your quantity, depending on the requirement, but increase it proportionally. For instance, if you are adding in some extra rice, throw in more chicken and vegetables too.

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Here is how I would plan out my own meals using this method. Feel free to change depending on your own preferences and dietary requirements. I prefer eating three meals and not snacking but you can tweak it to include a snack or two, too, if you like. 

Breakfast

One dosa or 2 idlis

Sambar with vegetables

Vegetable-based chutney (not coconut)

A cup of  coffee 

Lunch 

Chicken curry

Cooked vegetables

A plate of salad or raita

A bowl of millets

Dinner

A bowl of dal or an egg-white omelette 

One chapatti 

Cooked vegetables

Salad 

Also read National Nutrition Week 2021: Let's talk women's nutrition

  • FIRST PUBLISHED
    08.09.2021 | 11:16 AM IST

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