During my first 5 weeks at UCLA, I gained 20 pounds. I was shocked when I looked on the scale! Even though I was working out moderately and consistently, I was eating so much. Too much! I had no sense of portion control. Food can be a terrible temptation. It screams, “EAT ME: I’M DELICIOUS!” More than half the battle of controlling our weight and maintaining good health is Nutrition. Portion control is essential.
Remember the Food Pyramid? Well, it’s gone! Now, there is the new My Plate. It’s so relatable because it shows exactly how your plate should be each time you sit down to enjoy a meal. This is great because you don’t have to be so overloaded by counting your calories and measuring exact measurements of food. Follow these super simple rules and you’ll be able to control your portions.
(1) 50% of your plate should be fruits and vegetables
Whether you’re at a dinner party, a restaurant, or at your own kitchen table, start building your plate around fruits and vegetables. Let them be the first items you put on your plate. Fruits and vegetables provide fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins. Just don’t pour a buttload of butter, cheese, sour cream, bacon, or ranch over it all. Fruits and vegetables have the best natural flavors, and that is how they should be enjoyed 🙂
(2) 25% of your plate should be protein
Generally, we love to eat big pieces of steak. But, that is a dangerous practice because we build our meal around these proteins which increases our protein and fat intake significantly. My best advice for you is to treat protein as a condiment, whether is meat, fish, beans, quinoa, soy, etc. Choose lean source of meat to limit your fat intake. Just remember: meat = condiment.
(3) 25% of your plate should be whole grains
This is also where we tend to overload our plates and when we choose enriched white grains over whole grains. Whole grains include the germ in wheat products. The germ offers so much of the grain’s nutritional value and is removed in white grains (flours, breads, pastas, etc). Switch it out for whole grain pastas, rice, etc. Toss a small scoop of brown rice, quinoa, or whole wheat pasta. Complex carbohydrates offer essential sugars for our bodies to use a fuel and, my personal favorite, fiber.
(4) Milk and Milk Alternative Products
The USDA recommends approximately 3 cups a day. That’s an actual measurement of 3 cups or ~710 mL of cheese, yogurt, milk, etc (get your measuring cups out to give you a good idea of what that looks like). Whether it’s the feta cheese you toss into your salad, or a cup of yogurt you have as a snack, food items in this category should total 3 cups a day. Try subbing low-fat milk or milk products for your whole milk items. There are also soy, almond, and hemp all of which are delicious!
So there you have it. Build your plate this way and you’ll maximize your nutrients, vitamins, and minerals to feed your body. You’ll be naturally substituting all of the “bad” foods with all the “good” foods.
Eat well and be strong.