How I Build a Meal

While volunteering, I spoke about MyPlate as a guide for visualization of healthy eating (it was previously the food pyramid). While I think it’s a definite improvement, and overall great advancement for those new to healthful eating, I more closely align with the Healthy Eating Plate (from Harvard School of Public Health), aside from the canola oil and butter bit. SO. I thought it’d be fun to create my own version!

I’ve hesitated to write this post for so long because I truly do believe in mindfulness and listening to your body and avoiding food restriction. I particularly love my friend Lisa’s podcast series called Outweigh, which touches upon releasing the shame and fear surrounding food. And basically everything she writes about food freedom and her fork the noise course.

But in order to grasp that internal wisdom of food, we need a little outer wisdom, knowing which foods are high in nutrients and aimed to make us feel like our best selves.

ANOTHER side note is that I wrote this post pre-pandemic. In fact, I wrote it around October. See above why I’ve been sitting on it for so long. So I know access to fresh produce is drastically diminished right now. This post is meant for when things (hopefully) return to some sort of normalcy.

With that being said, I wanted to take a moment to talk about how I build my own plate (or bowl or glass, etc). Some things are per meal. And other things are per day.

On MY plate

  • ½ plate vegetables (combo of starchy and non-starchy and either fresh, frozen, or canned)
  • ¼ plate good source of protein (notice I didn’t say lean. I usually go for full-fat animal protein, as long as they’re sourced well. Pasture raised eggs here. Most of the time it’s plant sources of protein: lentils, beans, tempeh, chickpeas, hummus, edamame. In general, I eat MOSTLY plants, and a little bit of meat. Everyone is different and I completely acknowledge that.)
  • 2-4 servings of fruit/day (in smoothies, as snacks)
  • 1-3 servings of whole grain per day (oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice, sourdough bread, gf bread, etc)
  • 1-2 servings healthy fat per meal (cooking with extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, butter, ghee and consuming raw nuts, seeds, avocado, fatty fish, nut butters, full fat coconut milk )
  • Something gut friendly (probiotic foods like kraut and pickled onions, prebiotic foods like underripe bananas and sweet potatoes, and collagen containing foods like bone broth)
  • Something leftover / about to go bad
  • Something mindful

In addition to the actual food servings, I like to toss on something that looks a little forlorn from the refrigerator. Maybe a leftover or a forkful of kraut. Efforts to reducing food waste is a conscious action that goes into every meal. Hello cute little brown avo. I love you just the same as your bright, vivid green counterpart.

I ALSO incorporate mindfulness into every meal. Savoring each bite, chewing enough and quite slowly, making note of the flavors, feeling gratitude that I’m able to put wholesome and nourishing food on my plate.

Consumed with awareness

I try to be mindful of consuming foods that are:

  • high glycemic load (processed and refined sugars and carbohydrates)
  • high in vegetable seed oils (more about that here)
  • high in trans fat (aka processed foods)

Note: this doesn’t mean I NEVER eat these foods. I just don’t eat them very often, as they generally don’t make me feel and perform at my peak.

Overall:

This is obviously over-simplified and most certainly doesn’t happen at every meal, or every day! Some days it’s just a waffle with butter for breakfast (this literally happened yesterday). And it’s not an exact, calculated science as that would get pretty old and boring and robotic for something that I view as fun and colorful and exciting. And meal times are so much more about what’s on your plate. It’s a place for wholesome and joyous community and togetherness. Sharing thoughts, ideas, and love as we share food.

I ultimately reach for things I’m craving, and the above blueprint tends to be the overarching representation of that. And it changes day to day! I’ve been practicing this way of living for a decade now and it gets easier every single day. And just makes me FEEL GOOD. Because that’s really what it’s all about. You can read more about my thoughts on dieting and my personal food philosophy here.

I’m writing this post in the hopes that it can appeal to ALL different levels of the health spectrum – those at the beginning of their journey and those that consider themselves veterans. I wrote a bit more about getting started with healthy eating here.

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