The plate method is a tool that makes it easy to transfer a healthy and balanced diet to the plate in a practical and simple way. It ensures that all the necessary macronutrients are present with the right amounts of each, easily and without having to weigh. In addition, it is universal, because it can be carried out wherever you are.
All we need is a shallow dish, in which the part we will fill with food is about 23 cm in diameter (a standard dish). We divide this plate into 3 imaginary parts and each one of them will be destined for a food group. Here are the details.
STEP 1: ADD VEGETABLES AND GREENS
The consumption of vegetables provides fiber, vitamins, and minerals to our diet. In addition, this food group favors the feeling of satiety. We can use different types of vegetables to fill this portion of the plate, either in the form of salad or cooked or grilled.
STEP 2: ADD PROTEIN FOODS
In form of animal protein, it includes meat, fish and seafood, eggs, and poultry. However, this food group also includes tofu, tempeh, legumes, or products such as seitan, which provide vegetable protein. Protein consumption keeps us satiated and helps us strengthen and recover muscles.
STEP 3: ADD CARBOHYDRATES
In this third part of the plate are placed foods such as cereals or tubers. This group includes a wide variety of foods: bread, pasta, rice, barley, quinoa, oats, rye, corn, potatoes, etc. Farinaceous foods are our source of energy and fiber, contribute to intestinal health, control insulin levels, and promote muscle recovery.
STEP 4: DRESSING (HEALTHY FATS)
These include olive oil, avocado, or nuts. Healthy fats control cholesterol, improve circulation and boost the immune system. The ratio would be one tablespoon per plate.
IMPORTANT DETAILS: TAKE NOTE!
The distribution is a concept. We can mix foods or even move them to different dishes separately, but always maintain the quantities indicated according to our objective.
Depending on the stage of life and the individual characteristics of each person, the energy and nutrient needs will be different. Thus, the requirements of a young person who plays sports frequently are not the same as those of an older person.
However, the importance of eating a balanced diet will remain common: include a significant representation of the three basic food groups at each main meal. But it will be necessary to adapt it according to the objective and the characteristics of each person.
The standard plate method distribution, useful for weight maintenance, is 1/3 of each food group. It represents between 1800 and 2000 kcal depending on how we complement the rest of the meals of the day. It will be useful to cover the needs and requirements of the majority of the population.
However, the method of the dish can be adapted according to the needs. For those people who need to reduce overweight, we will increase the content of vegetables and vegetables and reduce the amount of farinaceous and protein foods, thus reducing the caloric content. To do this, it will be sufficient to adapt the plate with a different distribution: half of the plate of vegetables, ¼ of the plate of carbohydrates, and the remaining ¼ of protein foods.
On the contrary…
If what we want is to increase energy consumption because the demands are greater, we will have to increase the number of carbohydrates we ingest. This will happen, for example, in people who do a lot of physical activity or in adolescents in the developmental stage. In this case, half of the plate will be farinaceous foods and the other two quarters will be covered with vegetables and proteins.
Including the concept of the plate method as a tool to follow a balanced diet does not mean cooking for each family member independently. The idea is to be able to cook for everyone together and adapt each dish according to the needs of each of the members. An example of dish distribution would be:
- Adults with overweight: ½ vegetables, ¼ carbohydrates, ¼ protein.
- Adults with normal weight: 1/3 vegetables, 1/3 carbohydrates, 1/3 proteins.
- Adolescent growing up: ½ carbohydrates, ¼ vegetables, ¼ protein.
Everything explained above fits into lunches and dinners, but what about snacks and breakfasts? The structure will be the same as far as macronutrients are concerned. However, we will adapt it as follows:
A dairy product, which will act as a protein.
A ration of farinaceous (cereals, toast…).
A portion of fruit will provide us with vitamins and minerals.
Thus, the combination of the three foods will provide us with all the necessary nutrients to face the day.