The view of meal proportions has changed drastically in the last 15-20 years. Remember the Food Pyramid of the 90s? YIKES. Highly processed carbohydrates were the base of what we were supposed to be eating, at 6-11 servings per day. Fruits and vegetables, for the most part, were to be consumed in equal amounts, dairy and meat products were towards the top of the triangle, with fat, oils and sweets finishing out the tip of the pyramid. (Photo courtesy of www.dvo.com)
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has changed the format of how meals should be built through the use of MyPlate. The largest section of the plate goes to vegetables, second largest to grains, with protein and fruit finishing out the plate. This is a much better approach to nutrition than the previous 20-30 years, but there is still improvement to make.
While each individual’s dietary needs will vary based on weight, activity level, gender, etc., we have seen great success in both weight management AND health with individuals following a primarily vegetable and protein-based diet. Another easy way to consider each meal is that you incorporate a protein, a fat, and a carbohydrate source. It’s important to note that carbohydrates are not just the “bad” carbohydrates that we try and avoid; fruit and vegetables are carbohydrates, too! For a deeper look into the difference between complex and simple carbohydrates, check this out: https://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-carbohydrates
I’ve included a sample meal of what this type of eating would look like. The vegetables make up the majority of the meal, with the chicken being a “side dish.”
-1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
-BBQ sauce of your choice (choose one that does not include high fructose corn syrup as one of its ingredients!)
-1 head broccoli
-4 medium sized sweet potatoes
-Oil of choice (I used EVOO for the broccoli and coconut oil for the sweet potatoes)
Makes approximately 4 meals
This is merely an example of how to set up a meal, there are no hard and fast rules! If we’re taking the protein-fat-carbohydrate approach, I’ve got my chicken as protein, my coconut and olive oil as my fats, and my broccoli and sweet potatoes as my carbohydrates. The only processed carbohydrate that I’ve got in this meal is the BBQ sauce, which I simply used to cover, not drown!, the shredded chicken.
Hopefully this sheds a little bit of light on how to plan meals; it doesn’t have to be complicated and we don’t have to follow crazy recipes. Ask yourself two things: 1. Is my meal primarily plants and protein? 2. Do I have a protein, a fat, and a carbohydrate? If you said yes to both, you’ve got a great meal!
Reach out with any questions, comments, or suggestions on what you’d like to see in regards to nutrition going forward!
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