The simple effectiveness of the Plate Method

The problem nagged me. Several years ago, I racked my brain about how to present healthy eating as simply as possible. The problem wasn’t so easy to solve as I considered the Food Guide Pyramid,”exchanges,” and counting grams of this or that. Each approach seemed too time-consuming for real, busy people. Then I came across the The New American Plate, a method developed by the American Institute for Cancer Research in 2000. Wow, I loved its simplicity and the fact it was visually appealing! Moved by my first impressions, I decided to dig deeper, looking for results of its effectiveness. I was excited by what I found. When it came to weight loss and diabetes control, the plate method has proven to be as effective as calorie counting and other complicated methods of meal planning.

Aside from research, anecdotal evidence abounded. The same week I discovered the plate method, I met with a client who further solidified my opinion. She started our session by saying, “I’ve already lost 10 pounds.” I said, “Great! How did you do it?” She told me she had simply followed the plate method, and the pounds had come off with no suffering, little brain energy and no counting.! I was sold.

The simplicity of the plate method is deceiving, because there is actually a lot to it. It incorporates satisfaction, variety, portion control and balance. Still, it is easy to get  started: Simply follow the picture to use the plate method. Start with an 8- to 9-inch-diameter plate. Fill half of the plate with non-starchy vegetables such as salad, broccoli, carrots, asparagus, onions, mushrooms, etc. Fill ¼ of the plate with lean protein and the other ¼ with whole-grain starch such as brown rice or whole-grain noodles. Add 1 to 2 teaspoons of healthy fat such as olive oil, and enjoy!