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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