Remember how your parents used to urge you to “clean your plate” at every meal? Depending on what years you were a kid, your plate might have been 9 inches, 10 inches, 12 inches or even larger, says Dr. David Friedman.
According to Cooking Light Magazine, plate sizes have increased about 22 percent over the last century. This increase in plate size has led to an increase in portion sizes. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition explains that the typical portion of pasta we eat today is 480 percent larger than the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommended portion size. No wonder worldwide obesity rates have soared nearly 28 percent for adults in the past three decades, according to Medical News Today.
To take control of your weight, you need to take control of your plate! Here’s six simple steps to create the perfect weight loss plate:
1. Try a smaller plate.
Studies on plate size and overeating have been inconclusive. However, a 2016 nonscientific experiment by the editors of Cooking Light magazine suggests that a smaller plate may cut calories significantly. They measured the calories of food that they could fit on a small plate (9-inches) versus a large plate (12-inches). A healthy salmon and salad meal on the large plate was 779 calories. Only 519 calories of the same meal fit on the smaller plate. Cooking Light explains the importance of this calorie difference for weight loss: “Adding roughly 250 calories to all three meals every day means consuming on average an extra 750 calories each day, or 5,250 calories a week. Since each pound is equal to 3,500 calories, down-sizing your plate (and consequently removing the extra calories) theoretically could result in a weight loss of 1.5 pounds per week.”
2. Scoop on the veggies first.
Reserve half of your weight loss plate for vegetables and fruit, says the USDA. They recommend that for your health. However, a generous hand with plant foods can also help you lose weight. Fruits and vegetables tend to be low in calories, so you can eat a higher volume of them which can be very satisfying, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). More important, these nutrient-dense foods also contain lots of water and fiber, both of which have been shown to help you curb your appetite by making you feel fuller faster. Be sure to watch this helpful wellness video by The Leaf that covers six simple ways to sneak in more veggies for your diet!
3. Add your protein next.
Lean protein should make up 20 percent of your weight loss plate, according to USDA guidelines. You’ve got the key to portion size right in your hand! According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, three ounces of lean chicken, meat and fish should fit in your palm; an ounce of cheese will fit on your thumb; one to two ounces of nuts will fit in your cupped palm; and one cup of legumes is about the size of your fist or cupped palm. In a study, published in the journal Nutrition, people who simply focused on increasing their intake of fiber and lean protein lost weight over 12 weeks without doing anything else. Even better, 92 percent of them said they never felt hungry.
Our recipe and wellness experts at The Leaf are here to help you with your lean protein selections! These seven high protein foods that aren’t chicken are sure to fit the bill while offering up perfect portion sizes on your weight loss journey.
4. Give yourself some grains.
A full 30 percent of your weight loss plate should be made up of grains. Half of them preferably should be whole grains, which contain more filling fiber than refined grains, says the USDA. They recommend searching for the word “whole” at the top of the ingredients list. The USDA also explains that anything with three grams of fiber is a good source of this valuable nutrient, while anything with five and above is a superstar!
Get a boost by adding these six super-grains to your diet! > Packed with numerous health benefits, these grain selections are a must-try.
5. Don’t forget dairy!
It might not be on your plate. However, calcium-rich, low-fat dairy foods belong on your table. They supply needed calcium and are often fortified with vitamin D to help keep your bones strong. Because dairy foods are also protein, you get the benefit of their tummy-filling properties. Our comprehensive guide to the dairy aisle will help you make the right dairy selections for your wellness needs!
6. Always use your weight loss plate.
To avoid mindless eating and junk food, never eat anything out of the bag or box. Portion out your snacks onto your plate and eat them away from your TV and computer screen so you’re not distracted. According to Harvard Health, distracted eating can encourage you to eat more because you’ll have overeaten before your brain (which takes 20 minutes to register “fullness”) tells you that you’ve had enough. Slowing down and making a meal or even some popcorn or a cheese stick with fruit can help you enjoy your snack so you feel satisfied and full.