Revamp Your Diet Using Your Plate

Plate with four sections-protein, grains, vegetables & fruitThe USDA has come up with a clever tool to help you improve your food choic­es and reduce your por­tion sizes.   The tool is, some­thing you use every day,  your plate.   What makes this method so bril­liant is that all you need is right in front of you.  The less com­pli­cat­ed it is the eas­i­er to it is to main­tain long-term.  Here is how it’s done:

1.    Fill half your plate with veg­eta­bles and/or fruits. Choose a vari­ety of col­ors:

  • Orange: sweet pota­toes, man­gos, but­ter­nut squash
  • Pur­ple: egg­plant, beets, blue­ber­ries
  • White: cau­li­flower, cab­bage, jica­ma
  • Green: kale, spinach, broc­coli, avo­ca­do

2.    One quar­ter of your plate should be grains, prefer­ably whole grains.

  • Whole grains add fiber and oth­er impor­tant nutri­ents such as iron and B vit­a­mins
  • 100 % whole grain cere­al, bread, pas­ta, oats
  • Brown rice, quinoa, ama­ranth, bar­ley, oats, mil­let, teff, trit­i­cale, wild rice

3.    The last quar­ter of your plate should be a lean pro­tein. Try to vary your choic­es to get the most nutri­ents and the least calo­ries.

  • Seafood, poul­try (with­out the skin), eggs
  • Beans and legumes, tofu
  • Lean cuts of red meat


Additional Tips:

  • Drink most­ly water, or bev­er­ages with few calo­ries and minimal/no sug­ar.
  • Read food labels and choose foods with less salt. Try to get less than 2300mg of salt per day.  A good rule of thumb: Choose foods with less than 300 mg sodi­um per serv­ing, or no more than 1 mg per calo­rie of food.
  • Choose healthy plant-based fats/oils. Recent stud­ies found that the type of fat you eat is more impor­tant in dis­ease pre­ven­tion than the total amount of fat.
    Choose extra vir­gin olive oil, canola oil, grape­seed oil, sun­flower oil and flaxseed oil.
  • Avoid sat­u­rat­ed fats and trans fats, par­tial­ly hydro­genat­ed oils. Avoid but­ter, full-fat dairy prod­ucts, red meats, snack foods, processed foods.

Down­load the pdf below for more tips to a great plate from the USDA:






Unit­ed States Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture (USDA). Choose Accessed on July 10, 2011.

U.S. Depart­ment of Health and Human Ser­vices and U.S. Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture (USDA). Dietary Guide­lines for Amer­i­cans. Chap­ter 8 Sodi­um and Potas­si­um. Accessed on June 1, 2011.

Har­vard School of Pub­lic Health.The Nutri­tion Source. Fats and Cho­les­terol. Accessed on July 10, 2011.


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