I always say that you should be able to look down at your plate and see a rainbow, which in reference means that there has to be some balance to what the plate has on it! I refer to the balanced plate every single day, and once you try too, you will reap the benefits.
Life is too short to be counting calories, but we also do need to be aware of how to eat healthily – for life not just for weight loss. I focus my balanced plate around the Mediterranean diet and the use of fat-soluble vitamins A, D and K which will help you in the short and long term achieve optimum nutrition, be free from cravings and satisfy your body’s every need.
My philosophy is really focusing on eating real whole foods, as these foods are designed to offer true nourishment to each and every part of your body. It is also about listening to your body, if you satisfy your body’s demands, you are far less likely to overeat as your body is receiving what it needs.
Now no one is perfect, and this continues into our eating. It’s impossible to eat perfectly all the time, so I suggest that you follow a balanced plate whenever you can. Of course, in some situations there may not be an abundance of green vegetables for lunch and it’s good to remember that that’s okay! Instead, see your next meal as an opportunity to add more into your intake. On the other hand, on days where you may not be particularly active you may not need a large carbohydrate portion, therefore lowering your intake is absolutely fine. Once again by listening to your body and understanding your daily requirements, it will become easier to understand its needs, and producing a balanced plate will become easy.
An easy way to understand portion size and how much of everything should be on your plate is by using your hands. Of course this can become tricky in some social situations, but it is a great little reminder, allowing us to know whether or not we are fuelling our bodies with too little, too much or just the right amount of nutrition. As a general rule for everyone, you can follow hand portion sizes.
A 1 PALM of protein e.g. chicken and fish
B 1 HANDFUL of carbohydrate e.g. rice, oats, starchy vegetables and fruit
C 2 HANDFULS of non-starchy vegetables e.g. broccoli, spinach and peppers
D 1 THUMB of healthy fats e.g. olive oil, butter, coconut oil and nut butter
Now that we understand portion sizes, let’s move onto understanding the foods we should be filling our plates with. The list is endless, however I simplified my favourites to label the key food sources from each food group to include in your new and improved balanced plate.
KEY FOOD SOURCES FOR A BALANCED PLATE
Wholegrain bread, Brown rice, Quinoa, Buckwheat, Spelt, Oats, Rye bread.
Fish, Chicken, Turkey, Beef, Eggs
Greek yoghurt, Feta, Halloumi, Cottage cheese, Organic milk, Unsweetened dairy-free fortified milk.
Legumes, Tofu, Quorn, Tempeh, Plant-based protein powder.
Starchy: Sweet potatoes, Butternut squash, White potatoes
Leafy colourful: Kale, Spinach, Courgettes, Broccoli, Peppers, Aubergine, Cauliflower, Tomatoes.
Berries, Cherries, Apples, Pears, Peaches, Bananas, Citrus, Melon, Watermelon, Kiwi.
- HEALTHY FATS
Oily fish, Extra virgin olive oil, Nuts, Seeds, Nut butter, Grass-fed butter, Extra virgin coconut oil.
Having a balanced plate at every meal will provide your body with wonders, and while it can seem tricky at first, I always remember to look down at my plate and think “what does each food provide my body with”. Once you start you’ll never look back, and it won’t be long before it becomes second nature.
Read more from my book ‘Re-Nourish’ available on Amazon here.