How to Build a Balanced Plate

Created by: Kristen Carli, Dietetic Intern

Lean Protein

Choose lean proteins such as lean cuts of beef or pork, skinless poultry or fish. Aim to have some meatless meals using vegetarian protein such as beans, lentils, nuts and seeds. Be sure that ¼ of your plate is made up of lean protein.

Whole Grains

Choose whole grains to incorporate more fiber and other nutrients. Look for the 100% whole grain label on packaged foods or check the ingredients for words like whole wheat. Explore different grains like quinoa, barley, millet, or brown rice. Be sure that ¼ of your plate is composed of whole grains.

Fruits & Vegetables

Aim for ½ of your plate to be made up of fruits and vegetables. Choose from a variety of colors, incorporating the rainbow throughout the day. Vegetables and fruits are full of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. 

Dairy

Round out your meal with fat-free or low-fat milk, cheese, or yogurt. If you do not drink milk, try non-dairy milks that have been fortified with vitamin D and calcium. 

Limit Saturated Fat, Trans Fat, Sodium, & Added Sugars

When choosing what to eat, look at the nutrition facts label. Limit foods with saturated fat, trans fat, sodium and added sugars. Heavily processed foods will be high in all of these ingredients. Instead seek out plenty of fresh produce, protein and whole grains. 

Material adapted from choosemyplate.gov

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