Updated: May 8
Take a moment to review the above plate. Then take a moment to reflect on your unique plate. How closely does your current diet and lifestyle reflect the above plate? What similarities do you notice? What differences do you see? What is considered a healthy plate?
Industry standards and busy lifestyles have shifted the modern-day plate to incorporate larger portions, fewer vegetables, and increased amounts of fat and sodium. All which all are considerable contributors to weight gain, obesity, and disease. Food Changes Everything!
Food affects your whole being. The saying is true; you are what you eat. Let me explain why food enters the bloodstream, and blood is what creates your cells, tissues, and organs. Food has the power to regenerate the new you!
The world of diets and dietary theories is complicated and can be overwhelming. However, people need to understand what works best for them individually. Eating a diet made of whole foods, and no, not just anything you purchase from the Whole Foods grocery store. I mean more fruits and vegetables, lean protein, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, and drinking more water.
Now, forget about how your plate compared and let’s re-learn how to build your plate the healthy way!
Nutritionally, greens are high in calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, and vitamins A, C, and K. They are loaded with fiber, folic acid, chlorophyll, and many other micro-nutrients and phytochemicals. Although choosing organic is recommended, eating non-organic greens is still preferable to not eating any greens at all!
Some of the proven and possible benefits of consuming dark, leafy greens are:
Strengthened immune system
Promotion of healthy intestinal flora
Improved liver, gallbladder, also, kidney function
Clears congestion, especially in lungs with reducing mucus.
Eating fruit provides excellent health benefits and is part of a healthy plate. Fruits provide nutrients vital for health and maintenance of your body. Most fruits are naturally low in fat, sodium, and calories; and are full of sources of many essential nutrients such as potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin C, and folate (folic acid). Diets rich in potassium may help to maintain healthy blood pressure.
Dietary fiber from fruits, as part of an overall healthy diet, helps reduce blood cholesterol levels and may lower risk of heart disease. Fiber containing foods such as fruits help provide a feeling of fullness with fewer calories. Vitamin C is essential for growth and repair of all body tissues, helps heal cuts and wounds, and keeps teeth and gums healthy.
Folate (folic acid) helps the body form red blood cells. Women of childbearing age who may become pregnant should consume adequate folate from foods,
Some of the proven and possible benefits of consuming fruits are:
May reduce the risk of heart disease, including heart attack and stroke.
May protect against certain types of cancers.
May reduce the risk of heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.
May lower blood pressure, and may also reduce the risk of developing kidney stones and help to decrease bone loss.
Carbohydrates can be confusing and scary to some people. That is mainly because not all of them are created equally for a healthy plate. You find them in the usual suspects: bread, cereals, crackers , and pasta. You also find them in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, beans , and dairy. Your body needs carbohydrates to function optimally! The healthy carbohydrates you eat are broken down into glucose, which is the primary fuel your body uses for energy and to carry out normal cellular processes. We cannot live on fats and proteins alone. That is because too much time without some carbs on your plate will leave you sluggish, tired, and inefficient at getting through the day. So what kind of grains are best? Complex carbohydrates! I am specifically talking about carbs that come from whole grains. Whole grains are made up of all parts of the grain: the bran (the fiber-rich outer layer), the endosperm (the middle section) and the germ (the nutrient-rich inner part). When grains are milled or refined, the bran and germ portions are removed, leaving only the endosperm (what you get when you eat white bread). The endosperm is mostly empty carbohydrate calories. Yes, you need carbs for energy, but you’re losing the benefits of the whole grain when you go for refined. Most of the carbohydrates in a healthful meal plan should come in the form of veggies, fruits, yogurt, beans, legumes , and whole grains. These carbohydrate-rich foods tend to be the most nutrient-dense choices. Like millet, quinoa, spelt, or cracked wheat. Whole wheat bread, brown rice, and whole-wheat pasta are also good sources of carbohydrates. However, their whole grains are processed , and therefore, some nutrients are lost. It is important to mention that whole grains are not for everyone — especially those who have a gluten sensitivity or celiac disease.
Some of the proven and possible benefits of consuming whole grains are:
High in nutrients and fiber.
May lower your risk of heart disease
May lower your risk of stroke
Support a healthy digestion
May reduce chronic inflammation
Bodies #1 energy source
Proteins are considered the building blocks of life. Our skin, bones, muscles, hair, nails, and cartilage are mainly made of proteins. Most enzymes and hormones in our bodies are also proteins. Our protein needs shift as our activity levels change and throughout our life cycle. We need the most protein when we are growing (childhood and pregnancy) and repairing (injury or recovery from intense strength training). Protein has many functions in the body, aside from just giving us energy. It helps provide structure to our tissues and cells, supports our immunity, and even helps support growth. Protein quality usually refers to the levels of essential amino acids found in the food. There are two types of dietary protein: complete and incomplete. Protein that comes from animal food is considered a complete protein because it contains all essential amino acids. Plant-based proteins are typically lacking in one or two of these essential amino acids, which is why this form of protein is considered incomplete. Animal proteins, such as beef, eggs, chicken, fish , and poultry, contain high levels of all of the essential amino acids, and so they are referred to as complete proteins. Soy-based foods, such as tofu and tempeh, quinoa and hemp are also considered complete. Many plant foods such as legumes, rice, beans , and nuts do not contain all the essential amino acids in high amounts and may be referred to as incomplete proteins. Many people are concerned that they don’t get enough protein, but most can easily obtain adequate protein from their diets, whether or not they consume animal foods.
Some of the proven and possible benefits of consuming lean proteins are:
Builds and repairs body structure
Supports a healthy metabolism
Encourages weight loss and maintenance
Improves overall health
Some of the proven and possible benefits of consuming healthy fats are:
Supports proper brain development
Provides cushioning and insulation for internal organs
Plays a role in hormone synthesis
Help support cardiovascular and neurological health
Hydration another essential part of your healthy plate! Water makes up 50 to 60% of your body weight , and every system in your body depends on water to function. Two-thirds of the water in the body is within cells , and about one-third is outside of cells as the extracellular fluid, circulating in the blood, between cells and inside organs. You need water to make everything in your body happen, including proper nutrition. Water flushes toxins and wastes out of organs, helps carry oxygen and nutrients to cells, and provides a healthy environment for tissues.
Not getting enough water leads to dehydration, a dangerous state for your body to be in. During periods of dehydration, your body can’t carry out normal functions and begins to feel tired and drained. We’ve all heard the rule ”8 glasses of water a day”! Still, it’s not a bad mantra to live by , and I often give my clients the goal of 8 glasses a day as it’s pretty easy to remember, and it is adequate for most people. There are lots of other ways to get your fluid in than just plain old H2O. Lots of foods are packed with water , and other healthy beverages can count towards your daily dose of liquid. Most fruits and vegetables have incredibly high water content - some can be up to 96% water! Think of cucumbers, melons, celery, grapefruit, iceberg lettuce, or herbal teas.
Some of the proven and possible benefits of consuming water are:
Lubricates the joints
Regulates body temperature
Flushes out wastes
Maintains blood pressure
So, now that you know the anatomy of a healthy plate, you can eat empowered! By that I mean you can feel empowered putting the most nutrient-rich foods in your body. It’s not, ”I can’t eat the chocolate cake.” It’s, ”I can eat the blueberries!” When you focus on how good you feel fueling yourself with the best foods, you will continue to be motivated to eat these foods. The benefits will follow—I’m talking everything from weight loss to skin health. When you eat well, you feel good and live good!
– Rebecca Gray, Healthy Plate
“Eating clean food, breathing deeply and moving intentionally throughout the day are the centerpiece of my personal health plan. My passion is helping mamas [and others] cultivate these habits into their lives. It is not just about food and exercise. Yes, both are important, but family, faith, work, money and the environment we create matter too. Agreed? We will be discussing all facets of a wholesome life in the days ahead.
So, whether you are one hot mess and need to get on track with healthy living or you are on track and need encouragement to stay there, I can help. Lets live healthy and whole, TOGETHER!”
For healthy plate recipes or more information, please visit me at www.faithfullyrootedinhealth.com
Follow me on Instagram Here!
Medical News Today https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/290814.php
Oregon State University https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/publications/rx-health
Health line https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/9-benefits-of-whole-grains#section11
Integrated Institute of Nutrition https://www.integrativenutrition.com
Nutritious Life https://nutritiouslife.com