Thursday, August 11, 2011

Healthy Habits: The Great Plate

The Great Plate is part of U-M's MHealthy GOOD CHOICE program for healthy eating.

I've been trying to eat healthier and just live healthier in general so I've done a bit of research on the subject of healthy eating that I thought might be helpful to others who are motivated towards cleaner living.
The idea behind the "Great Plate" is to illustrate that creating a healthy meal can be simple. People tend to think that eating healthy is complex and time-consuming, when it really isn't. We all have busy lives and don't have a lot of time to prepare meals; however, the goal of the Great Plate is to provide simple ideas to eating healthier: cooking on the weekend for the week ahead; having fresh fruit, veggies, or nuts readily available for healthy snacks, etc.
The Great Plate concept is designed to be an easy way to control portion sizes and create a healthier meal, simply by dividing a 10-inch size plate into three sections.

  • 1/2 of your plate should be veggies. Be sure to try and make your veggies section as colorful as possible—this will help ensure you are getting the proper nutrients your body needs. 
  • 1/4 of your plate should be healthy whole grains such as brown or wild rice, multigrain bread, oatmeal, or quinoa.
  • 1/4 of your plate should be a lean protein such as fish and shellfish, white meat poultry like chicken and turkey (be sure to remove the skin), beans or eggs.
  • Choose whole fruits over juice and again, enjoy a colorful variety of fruits to widen the range of nutrients you are taking in. Fruits with 100 calories or less per cup include bananas, blueberries and grapes.
  • Be sure to include calcium rich foods daily such as fat-free milk, low-fat yogurt, and reduced-fat cheese. There are also non-dairy products packed with calcium you can eat as alternatives many of which fit in your other daily nutrition categories such as salmon, almonds & calcium-fortified cereals.
  • A little bit of fat is okay…I'm not just talking about dessert... this includes the oils/butter/sauces that your foods are prepared with too!
The "Great Plate" also addresses one of the biggest challenges people face when it comes to eating healthier— understanding portion sizes. Most don't realize that portions have changed dramatically over the decades. What we think is one serving is, in actuality, closer to two or even three servings.

Leading a healthier lifestyle doesn't have to be complicated or time-consuming and the benefits cannot be denied: reduced risk of chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and diabetes, as well as improved energy, strength, flexibility, stamina, muscle tone, sleep and stress release.  Nutrition is a key component to a healthy lifestyle. Combine nutrition with regular physical activity and you will be on track to living a longer, more fulfilling life.

*Note: I'm not a health expert, I'm just sharing what I've learned and what works for me. It's a good idea to contact your doctor or a nutritionist before changing up your diet.

What are some of your healthy habits? What healthy recipes can you share?

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