It wasn't too long ago that for my Mom's 60th Birthday we took a walk down memory lane by bringing out all kinds of gems from her past. One of the most entertaining finds was an old workbook from her 2nd year of grade school. It was the epitome of what life looked like in the late 50's. Women were starting to go into the work force, canned and packaged food was the new "it" thing. People owned and used bread boxes, we had milk men. Finding a steady job in a factory of some sort was the ideal. Life was different... very, very different.
Even looking back to my 2nd grade year, we had a food pyramid which looked like this...
Bread and grains on the bottom, meaning they were the foundation of a healthy diet. Followed by fruits and vegetables, next up meat and dairy, then of course using fat and sugar sparingly. It's to funny that bread and pasta are listed as a foundational food when of course after they enter the body they turn into sugar which we're suppose to use sparingly.
We've really come a long way since then in regards to understanding food and the way it works in our body. Our first lady Michelle Obama leading the way by introducing our new food pyramid called "My Plate".
As you can see, the "My Plate" chart is much more balanced. Displaying the proper ratios being roughly 40% Vegetables, 30% grains, 20% protein, 10% fruits and dairy to be used sparingly.
Inspired by the change the U.S. government made, I introduce you to key concept #5, Ratios and Portion Size.
Yet again, another super simple concept to implement into the diet you already have!
Think about your diet (the foods that you habitually eat). What are some of your go to dishes?
I'll use a Standard mid-western American meat and potatoes meal as an example:
A S.A.D. meal would consist of 6-8oz of animal protein, lets say chicken, a side of mashed potatoes with butter and milk mixed in to make them creamy and lastly frozen vegetables of peas and carrots or geeze even worse canned corn or almost unrecognizable green beans chock full of preservatives salt and sugar. (I digress)
How can we make this plate over?
Well, lets start with our 40% vegetable guideline. Perhaps we add a small and fresh green salad as a starter. We find a vinaigrette sans the sugar that appeals to our taste and top it with an assortment of colorful ripe, fresh veggies. Bonus Points for organic.
We also steam up, or roast some broccoli and cauliflower to have with the main course. We could probably down size our meat a little bit and definitely make sure that we're getting the highest quality, most humanly treated animal product we can afford. (You know I'm fully plant based, so in the spirit of compromise for my carnivorous friends, I included the afore mentioned statement.) Lastly, sub out the dairy filled potato for a roasted, red skinned version. Or shoot, have your mashers, just make it a smaller portion.
This really is the simplest change you can make. Downsize and switch out the carbs and proteins and dial up the veggies in all your staple dishes.
So I feel slightly hypocritical writing about portions because I can put it down like a linebacker. I've always been blessed with a healthy appetite, so I'm not going to preach to hard about making portions smaller. What I will ask you to do are the following things in regards to portions and eating the proper amount of food for you.
1. Have a glass of water before your meal. Often dehydration can make us think we're hungrier than we are.
2. Start with a salad. Waking up your digestive system with fresh raw vegetables will help prepare it for the harder to digest proteins and grains that will be entering your system. It also fills your tummy with yummy phytonutrient, vitamin and mineral dense foods.
3. Chew. Take your time, chew your food. Go slow and enjoy this time of re-fueling your body.
4. Downsize your dishes. Allow your plate to help your portion control. If you had parents that wouldn't let you leave the table until you finished your plate, it may be ingrained in you to eat every last bite no matter what you're feeling. Fill up a smaller plate and lick it clean. If you're still hungry, go back for more.
5. Always listen to your body. This is the golden rule for all healthy living. You're body knows what's best! You have an internal intuition that leads you to what you need. Thing is, we haven't been taught to listen to it and therefore that inner guide can feel fuzzy or perhaps like he/she's out of the office. In regards to portions and overeating, certain cravings, sugar and a need for comfort can lead us to overeat. If you're struggling with this it may be a good idea to meet with a coach or cultivate a meditation practice to help get you connected to your inner world.
Good luck putting into play this easy modification to your routine. For more ways to simply and easily make over your plate check out last week's blog post here!
I'd love to hear how you're making these simple and subtle changes. Leave a comment in the space below!