The Plate Model — A Much Simpler Tool for Healthy Eating than the New Pyramid


I don’t know about you, but I’m a little stunned over the latest version of the healthy eating pyramid.   Okay, maybe the word stunned is a little strong for most of us, but when we’re in the biz, hey, it’s a big deal!

It seems the designers of the new pyramid think most people have a lot more interest in healthy eating than we do.  True, most of us reading this blog care a lot about eating healthfully, but enough to spend the time required to use the pyramid the way it has been designed?  It’s certainly not an at-a-glance tool, and methinks that’s a major problem.

Our busy lives today dictate that we have simple tools to help us make food choices.  My favorite healthy eating guide is the Plate Model.  It’s a simple visual that helps us balance our meals without worrying about the numbers – no counting!  Just eating like this most of the time means we’ll meet healthy eating guidelines. 

If we’re not eating a meal like this, all we need to do is remember the components of the plate – starchy foods, protein foods, vegetables and/or fruits – and make our meals around those.  For example, a sandwich with whole grain bread, tuna (yes, made with mayo), lettuce, tomato and onion is a balanced meal that provides the basic types of foods for health.

Where’s the fat?  It’s just added into foods in preparation, e.g., the mayo in the tuna salad.  Use oils and the like to make foods taste good.  If you’re worried about overdoing it, read this article for tips on making healthy foods taste great.

Keeping it simple like this helps us stop obsessing about eating, too.  Trying to count what I ate to make sure I got what I  was ‘supposed’ to never did anything for me except make me crazy.

2 responses to “The Plate Model — A Much Simpler Tool for Healthy Eating than the New Pyramid”

  1. S says:

    this article encouraged me to ask a question that has been in my mind for some time. I am trying to encorporate healthy eating behaviors and patterns for my family. My husband is more of a problem than kids – they eat what and when they want, naturally.
    Since men and women do have different portion needs, I am not sure how much to cook for him. I don’t want to starve him, but I don’t want to over-feed him either. He will over eat and then feel ill.

    my husband spends a lot of time at the gym and is VERY muscular and fit, but his work has caused total havoc with that routine lately, as well as decimated his previously (self motivated)good eating habits. For the duration, until his business becomes more manageable, I am cooking and serving all of his meals and snacks to him (he’s a good man and deserves the care and the help!), otherwise he will forget to eat until midnight and then eat himself sick. I know how that makes a bad day worse and it is unnecessary for him to experience that.
    I am not trying to control his food. I just want some guidline, like I have for my meals (GM based), to feed him well so he can feel good and healthy to face the day!
    Right now, he does not excercise at all, and will not for some time, he knows it’s important, it’s just not going to happen for a little while, and he’s put on a bit of weight…he is unhappy with it (I don’t notice), if that info is helpful in your response.
    Thank you

  2. Marsha says:

    Hi S,

    Your husband is a lucky man to have someone who cares so much! It seems to me that the problem your husband is having probably has to do most with his not eating regular meals — he gets so hungry, that when we does eat, he overeats. It’s a very normal reaction. Here are a couple of thoughts on how to deal with it. One you are already doing — serving him meals and snacks so that he won’t forget to eat. If you can do that, it’s really the best way to help him, I think. Second would be to cook enough at meals to serve him two full plates (if he’s skipping meals, that wouldn’t be overeating), then have extra salad and other vegetables available if he feels like he needs to eat more to feel satisfied. That will give him more roughage and water, etc., that will help eat enough to feel full without eating so much it makes him feel ill. Even with this type of eating, since he was previously active and can’t be active at all right now, he will probably see a slight weight gain. I would just try to encourage him to understand that this is temporary while he gets his business managed, and perhaps try to get him to give himself a break occasionally and at least take a walk or do something active. After all, we know that that can actually help us be more efficient in our work as well as feel better while we’re doing it.

    Hope this helps. Have a great Memorial Day. I hope your husband is taking the day off!

About the Author

Marsha Hudnall, MS, RDN, CD

If you’re looking for an embodiment of dedication disguised as obsession, look no further. Marsha is a registered dietitian who has spent the last four decades working to help women give up dieting rules and understand how to truly take care of themselves. Her mission in life is to help women learn to enjoy eating and living well, without worries about their weight. She encourages women to embrace their love of food, which you might call being a foodie. If so, it’s appropriate because being a foodie means you pay attention when you eat. That’s a recipe made in heaven for eating well. Marsha is the President and Co-Owner of Green Mountain at Fox Run.

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