Did you learn the Food Pyramid as a nutrition guide when you were growing up? How about the Four Food Groups? Or was it Five Food Groups? Nutrition models can be quite confusing; however, the Healthy Plate Model is a new tool that is actually very simple to use. It is a way of visualizing how to put together a healthy meal without having to count or measure foods. Kids are now learning this method in schools and it is a model I advocate with families I work with as well.
Here are the basic features of The Healthy Plate Model:
- Use a dinner plate for older kids and adults. Use a smaller children’s plate for younger kids.
- Fill half of the plate with fruits and vegetables.
- The other half of the plate is divided into two sections:
- 1. ¼ of the plate has whole grains
- 2. ¼ of the plate has a protein food
Visually, it looks like this:
By including these foods for each meal, and in these proportions, you can ensure a well-rounded diet for both you and your family. Notice that ¾ of the plate is represented by fiber-containing foods, which makes it easy to meet the recommended amounts of daily fiber intake. Although it might seem overwhelming to have that many fruits and vegetables on your plate, this does not always have to be salad. Consider vegetables in pasta sauce, soups, on sandwiches, as coleslaw, in stir fry, etc.
The Healthy Plate Model also promotes satiety, or feeling full and satisfied after eating, which helps prevent overeating. The high-fiber foods and protein moderate the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream. This prevents the sugar “spike” and “crash” that comes with eating too much refined carbohydrates.
Perhaps the most useful aspect of the Healthy Plate Model is that it offers a visual guide that can be applied to every meal, every day. It helps with meal planning, grocery shopping and ensures quality nutrition without having to overthink too many details. Feeding your family meals that represent the Healthy Plate Model will provide good nutrition and promote healthy eating habits. For additional assistance with meal planning using the Healthy Plate Model, or guidance on how this model can improve your family’s health, schedule an appointment with one of our registered dietitians. 847.999.4385.