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How To Build a Healthier Plate

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How To Build a Healthier Plate

When it comes to healthy eating, knowing what to eat can be tricky enough. Are carbs the devil and should they be eliminated from our diets? (No, and no.) Are some fats good and need to be eaten? (Yes.) What about fruits and veggies? Is five a day enough, or should we eat more? (If you like!)

But knowing how much of each food at each meal is healthy is another thing altogether.  

That’s why we’ve put together this guide to building a healthier plate, so that you can use it when planning your meals for the week. 

  • As a general rule, a healthy plate looks like this - 50% fresh fruits, vegetables or salad, 25% lean protein sources such as chicken breast, fish, eggs, tofu, beans, lentils or chickpeas and 25% carbs (aim for wholemeal carbs such as brown bread, pasta or rice).
  • Some meals are easier to visualise in this way than others. Let’s think of grilled chicken with brown rice, broccoli, spinach and peas. The greens take up half the plate, and a quarter each goes to the fish and the rice. Perfect! But something like this Puy Lentil Mushroom Casserole is more difficult to view as a percentage of a plate as it’s “all-in-one”. However, serve it with a salad and the salad along with the veggies in the casserole will make up roughly 50%, the rest, mainly lentils, will provide your protein and some carbs - ideal if you’d like to eat a low carb meal.
  • This divvying up of carbs, proteins and fresh produce doesn’t technically have to happen at each meal, either. It can instead be divided up over the day. For example, you might eat wholemeal toast and peanut butter for breakfast and a tuna sandwich for lunch - so that’s your carbs and protein ticked off. So you could go all out on the veg front with this veg-loaded Japanese Pumpkin Stew for dinner with fruit throughout the day as snacks. 
  • Great, but what about good fats, we hear you cry! Good fats are found in foods such as oily fish, nuts, seeds, olive oil and avocados. So if your meal includes salmon or tuna as your protein source for example, you have the good fats covered. Fats should only make up a small percentage of each meal, even if they’re the good ones. So a drizzle of olive oil on a salad, a sprinkling of seeds or half an avo will be enough. 

Portion size is another ticky thing to get right, so to help, check out the size of your dinner plate. Make sure it’s a normal sized plate, and not a larger style and don;t overload it. Then, these helpful tips will help to guide you:

  • One portion of carbs is roughly two slices of brown bread, around 75g of uncooked rice or pasta, one medium potato or six small new potatoes. 
  • One portion of protein is two medium eggs, 200g baked beans, 80g cooked meat, 140g cooked fish, four tablespoons lentils or beans, one tablespoon of peanut butter or a handful of nuts or seeds. 
  • Then the space you have left - fill it with fresh produce! 

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