Building yourself a healthy plate….Have you ever struggled with knowing how to put together a well-rounded, nutritionally balanced meal? Sometimes it’s easiest to just grab and go…am I right?! But then you likely find yourself reaching for the chips, candy, or some other snack within two hours of your last “meal” because it wasn’t nutritionally dense enough to hold you over. Today I want to guide you through building a healthy, nutritious, and satisfying plate. The goal should be to eat a well-rounded meal every 4 hours with maybe 1-2 healthy snacks per day.
For each meal, your plate should contain each of the macronutrients which are protein, fat, and complex/healthy carbohydrates. It is also important to add in fiber to each meal to help slow digestion and to aid in blood sugar control.
Let’s break it down…a healthy, well-balanced plate should consist of 50% vegetables, 25% lean protein, 25% complex, healthy carbohydrates, and 1-2 tablespoons of healthy fat. This breakdown will ensure you are getting the most bang for your buck nutritionally and providing your body with proper fuel for energy. When we build our plates this way, not only are we fueling our bodies well, but we are also positively impacting our metabolisms to function optimally.
Half of your plate should be full of colorful vegetables that span all the colors of the rainbow…think kale, spinach, carrots, bell peppers, purple cabbage, squash…just to name a few. Vegetables have many benefits for our health- they can help in reducing inflammation, they are full of antioxidants, and they provide important vitamins and minerals.
Now, let’s walk through some examples of the other components on your plate.
Here are some examples of Lean Proteins: Aim for 20-30 grams of protein at each meal and 10 grams of protein with snacks. Remember, you want 25% of your plate to be lean protein.
- Grilled or baked chicken thighs or breasts (preferably without skin)
- Ground turkey or roasted turkey
Here are some examples of Healthy, Complex Carbohydrates: Our goal is 25% of our plate to be made up of these.
- Brown Rice
- Sweet Potatoes
- Quinoa/Chickpea Pasta
Here are some examples of Healthy Fats: Aim to include 1-2 tablespoons per meal. This can also include the oils you are cooking with.
- Olive Oil
- Salad Dressing
- Coconut Oil
Here are some examples of Fiber: Try to get in your fiber with the 50% vegetables on your plate.
- Chia Seeds
- Brussels Sprouts
Along with building a healthy plate, it’s important to have some healthy snacks in mind as well. Here are some snack ideas that incorporate protein, healthy fat, and fiber and will keep you feeling full and provide you with energy and great nutrition.
- Greek yogurt with berries and flax/chia seeds
- String cheese with cut up veggies and hummus
- Apple and peanut/nut butter
- Nut and seed mix with various nuts, pumpkin seeds, and some dried fruit
Here are two example meals using this ‘build a healthy plate’ formula.
LUNCH CHOPPED SALAD + CHICKEN
Cut up a combination of colorful, fresh vegetables and leafy greens. Top the salad with slices of roasted turkey or chicken, avocado and a simple Extra Virgin Olive Oil vinaigrette.
DINNER ROASTED SALMON + BROCCOLI
Cook a piece of salmon (skin-side down) at 450 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes (or until cooked to your liking). Meanwhile, sauté broccoli with garlic and coconut oil in a pan. Squeeze ½ a lemon over the top and serve alongside ¼ to ½ cup of quinoa.