Fit & Fresh

How to Balance a Nutritious Plate to Optimize Health

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No matter what your health and nutrition goals are, there is a fundamental method to balancing your plate that can help you slim down, tone up, boost energy and improve health from the inside out. Want to know the secret? Keep reading!

I believe that healthy doesn’t have to be hard, which is why I’m all for guidelines and formulas that allow for flexibility. As a health coach, it’s important for me to steer clients in a direction that is realistic and attainable, despite their lifestyle and dietary needs or preferences.

When talking about healthy food choices, I tend to fall back on a specific visual and formula that best describes how to balance a nutritious plate.

The Visual: 4 Quadrants

Imagine your plate as if it were broken up into four quadrants. Got it? Now here’s how to fill each quadrant:

  • Quadrant 1 and 2: Vegetables and/or fruit – Fill half of your plate with nutritious produce that will provide your body with fiber, vitamins and nutrients needed to keep your body healthy and energized. I always give a priority list of leafy greens, first, vegetables, then fruit to help keep sugar intake in check.
  • Quadrant 3: Whole grains (or more vegetables) – Carbohydrates are a necessary macro nutrient as they are your body’s primary source of energy. Carbohydrates can be sourced from whole grains, vegetables, fruits, milk, nuts/seeds and legumes. The key to healthy carbohydrate intake is fiber, which cannot be broken down in the body. This promotes healthy digestion and slower absorption of food, which keeps blood sugar levels stable throughout the day.
  • Quadrant 4: Protein – the building blocks that help repair and build muscles, promote bone health and satiety. Still hungry? Go for protein, first.
  • Required bonus: Healthy fats – and no, the right kind of fats will not make you fat (they can help you lose weight!). A little bit goes a long way in boosting energy, curbing cravings and assisting the body in absorption of vitamins A, D, E and K. Focus on incorporating more plant-based fats such as olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds for a healthy dose of omega 3s.

The Formula: The Perfect Trifecta 

If you follow me (@fitlivingeats) on Instagram, you might already be familiar with #theperfecttrifecta. This blend of macronutrients streamlines the plate visual mentioned above into a formula that can be used no matter where you find yourself.

The perfect trifecta = protein + healthy fats + fiber

Notice that I’m not just referencing carbohydrates, but more specifically, fiber. This is the key component to carbohydrates that makes or breaks your plate from a nutritious perspective. Think cupcake (carbohydrate) vs. quinoa (carbohydrate + fiber).

Interested in taking your nutritious plate one step further? Check out my 2018 Fall Nutritious SLIMdown 6-Week Challenge to learn how to implement what you’ve learned into actionable steps to help you see results!

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