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  • Writer's pictureMaKayla Neinas

How to Balance Your Plate

Learning how to balance your plate and build a hunger crushing meal is the key to developing a healthy diet.

Balance Your Plate: A Visual Guide

Building a healthy meal can seem overwhelming! There are so many questions: "How much protein should I be eating?" "What are healthy fats?" "Are carbs okay to eat and if so how much?" "How many veggies should I be eating?"

Before diving deeper into the key to building a healthy plate, remember that do what works best for you and your body. Make a plate that you truly enjoy to look at and eat! Now let's break it down.

#1 - Start with Protein!

Protein Protein Protein! Every meal you build should start with a sufficient amount of protein to promote building lean muscle and maintaining a healthy weight.

How much protein should I have?

3 to 5 servings per day

Portion size per meal:

general guide = size of your palm

Men: about 24g

Women: about 22g

Animal Protein Sources:

Salmon, Tilapia, Cod, Shrimp, Tuna, Scallops, Halibut

Lean Ground Beef, Chicken, Turkey, Nitrate-free lunch meat, Chicken Sausage

Eggs, Pork, Venison, Bison, Turkey Bacon

Plant Protein Sources:

Tofu, Tempeh, Edamame, Lentils, Beans, Spelt, Hemp Seeds, Spirulina, Chia Seeds, Seitan

Dairy Sources:

Greek Yogurt, Cottage Cheese, Milk, Whey Protein Powder

#2 - Add your Carbs!

You may have heard that carbs are the enemy! However, everyone needs carbs as it is our body's preferred source of energy. Complex carbs are always the best choice for building a balanced meal.

Why are complex carbs better than simple ones?

Here is an article that breaks down complex carbs vs simple carbs:

Complex carbs include:

Grains, beans, potatoes, veggies, & fruits

Portion Size Per Meal?

1 serving = about 1 cupped hand full

Example: 2/3 cup cooked grains (brown rice, quinoa, oatmeal, 1 medium potato)

Carb Choices:

Beans: Black, Chickpeas, Pinto, White, Kidney

Grains: Brown Rice, Wild Rice, Quinoa, Couscous, Lentils, Oats, Whole Grain Bread, Whole Grain Pasta

Other: White Potato, Sweet Potato

Use this visual to guide you!

#3 - Fats Fats Fats!

WAIT! I thought fat was bad for you? Fats won't make you fat? The simple answer is NO fats are not "bad for you" and will not "make you fat." Actually, healthy fats support optimal cholesterol levels, optimize brain function, improve skin as well as many other benefits!

However, not all fats are created equal. There are many types of fat, but to keep it simple we are going to focus on choosing healthy fats that you can add to your meals.

For a deeper breakdown of the different types of fats:

How much fat per plate?

general visual guide = size of your thumb

(1 tbsp of oil, butter, nut butters)

(1 serving Avocado = about 1/3 of the whole)

Nutrition Facts for 1/2 of an avocado:

What fats are healthy?

Nuts/Seeds: Almonds, Cashews, Macadamia, Pecans, Pistachios, Walnuts, Peanuts, Hemp seeds, Chia Seeds, Flax Seeds, Pumpkin Seeds

Oils: Avocado oil, Olive oil, Flax Seed oil, Coconut oil, Butter, Ghee

Other: Avocados, Cheese, Pesto, Marinades/Dressings

#4 - Time for the Color!

Let's talk everyone's favorite: fruits, veggies and fiber! WE ALL know the importance of fruits and vegetables in a well-balanced diet. Since we were kids we were told, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away" or to eat our spinach so we can be strong like Popeye.

But, how much should we really be eating?

Vegetables: 5-7 servings per day

Fruit: 1-3 servings per day

What does a serving look like?

1 serving = about the size of 1 fist

Tip #5 - Finish strong!

You've made it! You have now learned how to build a healthy and balanced plate! Finish your meal strong with a big glass of water!

How much water?

Find your daily intake needs by: multiplying your weight in pounds by .66 to determine how many ounces you need each day!

Happy Eating!

We hope this guide was helpful for you to learn how to build a well-balanced and delicious dish! Stay tuned for more guides and recipes coming soon.

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