Growing up, most of us were taught to eat foods that belonged to the three categories: Go, Grow, and Glow. “Go” meant foods that would give us the energy to keep moving, “Grow” meant foods that would give us sustenance to grow, and “Glow” for foods that would make us healthy and rich with nutrients. Some of us have also heard of the fruit pyramid. However, it’s time to ditch those guides for a new and improved way of making sure you’re eating right—it’s simpler, too!
According to the USDA, women should get four servings of fruit and five helpings of veggies daily. To visualize it, one serving of veggies is equal to about a cup of raw leafy greens, or 1/2 cup of other veggies. One serving of fruit is equal to 1 medium-sized fruit, or 1/2 cup when chopped. If you think you couldn’t possibly eat that much fruits or veggies, think of it in terms of a special plate with divisions.
According to the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), half of your plate should be filled with mostly leafy vegetables and some fruit. However, before you go heaping half of your plate with starchy veggies like potatoes, keep in mind that they don’t count in that category because this family of vegetables messes with your blood sugar levels. The leafier and the darker your greens are, the better for your health. Eat them fresh or steam and boil them to avoid unnecessary oils. Mix it up with fresh fruits in all colors—the more variety, the better for your body!
1/4 of your plate (or less!) should be filled with whole grains and complex carbohydrates. Whole grains like wheat, barley, quinoa, and products using them like whole wheat pasta are a smart choice. These kinds of carbohydrates give you the energy you need to power through your day without messing with your blood sugar levels the same way that white carbohydrates do.
The last 1/4 of your plate should be filled with protein—lean meats like chicken, fish, beans, and nuts are a good bet, and they go great with fresh salads. Limit your red meat intake to a few times a week, and ditch the processed meats like bacon, ham, and sausage—they’re loaded with chemicals, fat, and bad cholesterol.
Now, it’s also important to be particular with the way your food is prepared and what you eat with your healthy plate. The HSPH recommends healthy vegetable oils like canola, coconut, corn, and soy, among others. Say goodbye to sugary drinks like iced tea and soda, stick to a small glass of juice per day, and don’t overdo the dairy products.
For more information, visit https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-eating-plate/.