Are you watching your weight, or just trying to eat better? Confused by all of the conflicting messages about what to eat and how much? Here’s our quick guide to filling your plate with the right amount of the right foods.
Start by building a healthy plate.
The USDA recommends that you fill half of your plate with fruits and vegetables. Fresh produce is naturally low in calories and high fiber to help fill you up without a lot of calories.
Make half your grains whole. Whole grains contain important nutrients that help keep your heart healthy. They also container fiber not found in refined grains, and can help you control your weight.
The number of servings you need daily from each food group varies depending on your age, sex, weight, and activity level. You can find a calculator to help you determine your personal meal plan on the USDA Choose My Plate website.
Once you have your meal plan, it’s important to understand what counts as a serving. Control your portions of grains, proteins, dairy, and fats, and fill up with vegetables and fruits.
For grains, 1 slice of bread, 1 cup of cereal, or ½ cup of cooked rice or pasta counts as one serving.
1 cup = Size of a baseball
½ cup = Size of a lightbulb
For proteins, 3 ounces of cooked meat or 2 tablespoons nut butter or hummus counts as one serving.
3 ounces = deck of cards
2 tablespoons = golf ball
For dairy, 1 cup of milk or yogurt or 1½ ounces of cheese counts as one serving.
1½ ounces cheese = 3 dice
Instead of focusing on decreasing your portions, which can leave you feeling hungry or deprived, focus on filling up on the right foods. Eating small portions of lean protein and whole grains, skim or low fat dairy, and plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits can help you control your weight and stay healthy.