Beth Blair, a MOVE! Dietitian, dives into the first episode of a six-part series on eating a healthy plate. She sets the stage and gives advice for keeping it simple.
As dietitians with the VA, our job is to help take the mystery out of good nutrition habits. We want to make it as simple as possible for you to make the healthy choices you need to reach your nutrition and lifestyle goals. And it’s with that goal in mind that we are going to be taking a deep dive into a personal meal planning tool called the Healthy Plate.
Put very simply, the healthy plate is a visual guide that shows what types of foods, and how much of each type, you should eat at each meal, using the space on a standard 9-inch dinner plate as our guide. You separate each circular plate into four equal quadrants, like four pieces of a pie. So at each meal, all you really need to do is focus on filling half of your plate, or two of those four quadrants, with non-starchy vegetables. Then quadrant three you will want to fill with grains, beans, or starchy vegetables, and quadrant four with minimally processed meats or other proteins. And that’s it.
For example if you plan to have pork chops for tonight’s meal, that would be your protein source. You would have a 4-6 oz baked pork chop, add a ½ baked potato for a starch/carbohydrate section, and add some cooked broccoli or mixed veggies to fill ½ your plate complete the healthy plate model.
In our MOVE! program, at the VA we teach our Veterans to utilize a 9-inch plate. So that could be your goal for the next meal to use a smaller plate.
We want to review these simple guidelines so you can plan a meal that you can be confident will move you one step closer to your fitness and nutrition goals.
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Beth Blair, RDN, LDN is a registered dietitian nutritionist. She serves Veterans out of the Evansville Healthcare Center within the Marion VA Health Care System.