Remember the food pyramid used in schools to teach us about healthy eating habits?
The food pyramid helped in explaining what it takes to form a balanced diet. However, the pyramid approach had several disadvantages, including confusion regarding portion size.
Therefore, to simplify healthy eating habits, Harvard University introduced a new image known as My Healthy Plate, which helped serve the function that the old pyramid could not.
Are you curious about what we are talking about and more about the My Healthy Plate; keep reading the article then.
What is My Healthy Plate?
My healthy plate or the healthy eating plate is a guide that Harvard University has developed to promote healthy and balanced meals.
The plate is divided into unequal quadrants representing the main four food groups: whole grains, proteins, fruits and vegetables with a side of healthy oils and water.
The healthy eating plate is an easy-to-understand visual guide that can help manage weight and combat chronic diseases.
What is the basis of the healthy eating plate?
A healthy eating plate helps in promoting the idea of a balanced diet.
Diet plays a critical role in the general well-being of the body, and in the age of fad diets, eating healthy using the visual guidance of the healthy eating plate can prove beneficial in more than one way.
A single food group can never provide the sufficient nutrients required for the proper working of the body; therefore, the healthy eating plate focuses on including all the different nutrition sources in a single plate.
The guidelines that come with the healthy eating plate are as follows:
- Eating a variety of food ranging from colorful vegetables and fruits to whole grains, lean proteins and dairy products.
- Drinking plenty of water
- Replacing foods rich in high saturated, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats with healthy fats and oils.
- A healthy eating plate focuses on the type of carbohydrate we consume in our diet as few sources of carbohydrates are considered more beneficial than others
- Limiting foods and beverages containing added salt or sugar
- Limiting the consumption of alcohol. However, moderate alcohol intake is still favoured by My Healthy Plate.
What should you put on your healthy eating plate?
As mentioned previously, the healthy eating plate is divided into unequal quadrants that focus on the different food groups with healthy oils and water.
To elaborate further on the visual guide of My Healthy Plate, here is a quick breakdown
Since whole grains are not processed and kept in their original forms, they are rich in nutrients compared to other carbohydrate sources.
Filled with Vitamin B, E and minerals like magnesium, iron and zinc, dietary fibers and phytochemicals, whole grains are a powerhouse of nutrients and provide numerous health benefits.
Whole grains should be forming 1/4th of your plate, and a few examples of whole grains that you can include in your diet are barley, whole wheat, brown rice, quinoa and oats. Pasta or noodles made from whole wheat also provides a milder effect on the body than refined grains.
Proteins are the building blocks of the body, and therefore it is important to consume foods that will help in the growth and development of the cells and tissues.
Proteins help build and repair body tissues, keep your body healthy, and helps in regulating functions.
Try to consume foods that help in providing vitamins, minerals and other beneficial fats like omega-3.
Some good sources of protein are red meat, poultry, seafood, fish and eggs. Some excellent plant-based protein sources are legumes, tofu, tempeh, soy milk, beans, and nuts for those who follow vegan or vegetarian diets.
Fruits and vegetables
Well, fruits and vegetables have to be included in our diet for the numerous health benefits they provide.
Comprising half of the plate in the My Healthy Plate visual guide, fruits and vegetables help provide nutrients and add color, texture, and goodness to your plate.
These are naturally low in sodium, fats and calories but rich in other nutrients like antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, dietary fibers and phytochemicals.
Our body needs healthy fats to perform regular functions efficiently; therefore, including healthy oils is an absolute must for our diet.
However, make sure that these oils are in moderation.
Choose healthy plant oils like canola, sunflower, olive, soy, corn, peanut and other vegetable oils. Also, partially hydrogenated oils containing trans fat should be avoided as much as possible.
Also Read: How To Be An Ethical Omnivore?
Few examples of what an ideal healthy eating plate looks like
You might be confused about what a healthy eating plate for kids or a healthy eating plate for breakfast would be like? Then let us help you out.
Listed below is a list of ingredients and a few meal ideas that will make your work easier.
- Fruits: any seasonal fruits; ideally apples, bananas, berries, cherries, orange, plum, peach and pears
- Vegetables: green leafy vegetables, bell peppers, carrots, celery, mushrooms, tomatoes, onions, sweet potato and potatoes; like fruits, try to include seasonal vegetables as well
- Grains: whole wheat cereal, bread, tortillas, crackers, oats, popcorn kernels, quinoa, brown rice, barley, farro and granola
- Proteins: fishes (freshwater or frozen), lean meat, almond butter, beans, eggs, hummus, tofu
- Dairy: fat-free or low-fat yogurt, milk, cottage cheese or cheese
- Healthy fats: walnuts, olive oil, avocado
- Condiments: herbs, spices, turmeric, ginger, garlic, basil and fennel
- Beverages: coffee, tea, smoothies, detox water, juices, kombucha and water
Healthy plate for breakfast and meal ideas
- Whole-grain cereal bowls + tuna and avocados sandwiches with salad on the side + carrot stick with hummus + brown rice with stir fry veggies, tofu and garlic
- Yogurt bowl or plain peanut butter sandwich + vegetable soup with whole wheat bread on the side + cheese stick with fruits + salmon and air-fried sweet potato fries
- Eggs + chicken and veggie wrap + fruit slices with peanut butter + chicken salad with a glass of fat-free milk on the side.
- Oats + salad bowl of beans, corn and cheese + popcorn + roasted meat of your choice with stir-fried veggies on the side
- Yoghurt parfait + bunless veggie burgers + makhanas + stuffed peppers with the meat of your choice or brown rice with veggies
My Healthy Plate not only focuses on eating well but also emphasizes acquiring healthy habits.
Eating regularly, listening to the body, avoiding unhealthy food, maintaining a proper diet schedule, staying active, and exercising regularly are also some of the other key features of the visual guide.
We want to end the article by stating that My Healthy Plate is a visual guide developed by Harvard University to promote healthy food habits. However, before incorporating it into your lifestyle, make sure to consult with a dietician or nutritionist for proper guidance.