Eating is one of the biggest pleasures in our lives. Of course, eating is essential for life, but we also eat for social reasons, such as to celebrate weddings, babies, birthdays, and so much more.
As a dietitian, I believe any food can be calculated into a healthy diet. Obviously some foods are better for us than others. This is where portion control comes into play. The USDA MyPlate campaign recommends filling half of our plate at each meal with fruits and vegetables. If we eat more produce, naturally we will eat less of the foods we need in smaller quantities—but we can still enjoy them without reducing our quality of life.
Consider how you build your own dinner plate. Does the starchy part of the meal, such as rice, pasta, and potatoes, take up half of the plate? How much meat or other protein are you eating? Are you including a fruit and a vegetable at most meals? Ideally, the starch and protein should each take up about ¼ of the plate, leaving the rest for fruits and vegetables.
One tip I like to give clients is to start by including at least three food groups at every meal. With this strategy, you can make simple meals but still get a good amount of nutrition. Here are a few meals I like to make:
- Fruit smoothie with spinach and almonds
- Oatmeal with yogurt and fruit
- Toast with peanut butter and applesauce
- Spaghetti with meat tomato sauce and a side of green beans
- Whole grain wrap with hummus, cheese, and veggies
- Grilled chicken with rice and asparagus
- Eggs with a tortilla and pico de gallo
If you are interested in losing weight or reducing your portions, try using a smaller plate or bowl. MyPlate recommends eating the foods you love, just in smaller quantities. You can have a piece of cake or a scoop of ice cream every now and then and still remain healthy. Just keep your portions in check. Remember, you don’t have to eat the whole cake to know it is delicious.