Why ‘plate-mapping’ is the key to a summer body: How dividing up your meals properly can transform your body – and the best foods to eat at each sitting
- Dietitian, Lyndi Cohen, shared the five steps to a perfectly-proportioned plate
- Lyndi explained that ‘plate mapping’ is the best way to get on top of health goals
- The dietitian said you should start with carbohydrates, protein and vegetables
- However, you should include a serving of healthy fats and finish with a flavour hit
While we know that the perfect meal should have at least two servings of vegetables, often that’s where the mathematics stops when it comes to cooking.
But the perfect plate is so much more than just a bit of whatever you like and an ill-thought-out side of veg, which might explain why you feel hungry and unsatisfied after finishing.
Speaking to FEMAIL, dietitian Lyndi Cohen shared the secrets of ‘plate-mapping’ and a perfectly-proportioned breakfast, lunch or dinner.
‘If you get the basics right, it’s really simple to eat a well portioned, healthy plate for every meal,’ Lyndi told Daily Mail Australia. ‘Use a simple five-step approach to balance your meals and get the right portion size.’
So what are the five steps to the perfectly mapped plate?
Speaking to FEMAIL, dietitian Lyndi Cohen shared the secrets of ‘plate-mapping’ and a perfectly-proportioned breakfast, lunch or dinner (pictured)
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‘If you get the basics right, it’s really simple to eat a well portioned, healthy plate for every meal,’ Lyndi (pictured) said. ‘Use a simple five-step approach to balance your meals’
1. Start with a serving of healthy carbohydrates
1/4 of a plate – or the size of a clenched fist
What makes up the perfectly-proportioned plate?
1. Start with a serving of healthy carbohydrates – this should make up 1/4 of a plate or a clenched fist.
2. Add a serving of lean protein – this should make up 1/4 of a plate or your palm without fingers.
3. Load up with 2/3 cups of vegetables – these should make up 1/2 of a plate or 2-3 fistfuls.
4. Include a serving of healthy fats – these should make up a matchbox or your two thumbs together.
5. Finish with a flavour hit – this should make up a matchbox or your two thumbs together.
They are the building block for any meal, fuelling your brain and body in equal parts.
And while you might think a healthy eater should shy away from carbs, in fact Lyndi said these are the first part of your meal you should plan.
‘Far too many people unnecessarily cut carbohydrates from their diet due to popular diets like the Keto diet,’ Lyndi said.
‘But carbs aren’t bad for you if you’re trying to lose weight – you just need to make healthier choices.’
The dietitian recommends opting for something like brown rice, a wholegrain slice of bread, quinoa, half a tin of legumes, sweet potato, corn, pumpkin or oats.
‘You don’t need to weigh or measure your food,’ she added.
‘A portion size of carbohydrates is roughly the size of your clenched fist, or a quarter of your plate.’
Put this on your plate first and save room for the next step.
Firstly, you need to think about carbohydrates and protein – which should make up roughly a quarter of a plate each (pictured: a balanced, plate-mapped meal)
2. Add a serving of lean protein
1/4 of a plate – or the size of your palm without your fingers
Next, it’s time to think about protein – the ever-popular macronutrient with those trying to lose weight and put on muscle.
‘There’s a lot of hype around protein and nutrition,’ Lyndi said. ‘But most people overestimate how much protein they need, eat far too little vegetables and skip carbohydrates altogether, creating a really unbalanced plate.’
The dietitian explained a serving of protein is roughly a quarter of a plate or ‘the size of your palm, excluding your fingers’.
‘This is the equivalent of around 100 grams of meat, fish or tofu, a couple of eggs, half a tin of legumes or a third of a cup of cottage cheese.’
Lyndi said that while protein ‘is important for your muscles and for sustained energy, eating more protein isn’t always better for you’.
‘We’re eating far too much meat, so it’s a good idea to try adding in non-meat-based protein like cheese, nuts, tofu and legumes,’ she added.
‘Add in 2-3 cups of vegetables to your plate,’ Lyndi said. ‘A cup is the equivalent to the size of your fist, so you should aim to see 2-3 fistfuls of colourful vegetables on your plate’
3. Load up your plate with 2-3 cups of colourful vegetables
1/2 a plate – or the size of 2-3 fistfuls
‘Including healthy fats in each meal will help to keep you feeling full, and can also be good for brain, skin and hair,’ Lyndi (pictured) said
The most crucial step of all, adding in vegetables, is something the time-poor person too often forgets.
‘Add in 2-3 cups of vegetables to your plate,’ Lyndi said. ‘A cup is the equivalent to the size of your fist, so you should aim to see 2-3 fistfuls of colourful vegetables on your plate, for every single meal.’
Obviously, fresh produce is expensive, but Lyndi said you don’t need to buy pricey, superfood vegetables – cheap options do just as good a job.
‘Most people overestimate the value of goji berries and acai bowls in their diet and completely underestimate the power of everyday vegetables like baby spinach, tomatoes and cucumber,’ Lyndi said.
‘Canned, frozen, fresh or juiced – it doesn’t matter! All vegetables are healthy, even white potato. Variety is key so aim for lots of different colours.’
4. Include a serving of healthy fats
A matchbox – or the size of two thumbs together
‘Including healthy fats in each meal will help to keep you feeling full, and can also be really good for your brain, skin and hair,’ Lyndi said.
She said a serving of fat is the size of a matchbox or your two thumbs, side by side.
‘For this part, I love a quarter of an avocado, some feta cheese or a handful of seeds and nuts,’ Lyndi said.
‘Including a serving of fat into your meals will also help your body absorb fat-soluble nutrients like vitamins A, D, E and K, found in many vegetables.’
Lastly, Lyndi said a hit of flavour will elevate a healthy meal from boring and bland to tasty and good for you in one small swoop (pictured: a balanced meal)
5. Finish with a flavour hit
A matchbox – or the size of two thumbs together
Lastly, Lyndi said a hit of flavour will elevate a healthy meal from boring and bland to tasty and good for you in one small swoop.
‘A dollop of hummus, a delicious salad dressing, a sprinkle of feta cheese or some pesto goes a long way in helping you to stick to your health goals,’ she said.
‘Too often, we go to the extreme of healthy eating and it makes it so unsustainable. By adding in a flavour hit, you’re making healthy food taste good, which is the only way to keep on top of your fitness goals.
‘Please stop making boring health food. Don’t ask for your dressing on the side.’
Lyndi Cohen is the author of the Keep It Real program, which aims to overhaul your attitude towards dieting and eating well. For more information, please click here.
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