“Get Your Plate in Shape” at the BLC


By: Nisha Pai 

It’s National Nutrition Month and time to “Get Your Plate in Shape!”

The idea behind National Nutrition Month is to ensure that we make informed choices when we decide what and how much to eat.  It allows us to develop healthy eating and physical activity habits that our bodies deserve!

The theme of 2012, “Get Your Plate in Shape!” can mean different things for different people.  But its main goal is to encourage us to pay attention to exactly what is on our plate before we start eating!

One of the tips that nutrition experts from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics share with us is to enjoy your foods but eat less by:

  • Controlling portions size
  • Use a smaller plate, bowl and glass.
  • Cook more often at home where you are in control of what’s in your food.
  • When eating out, choose lower calorie menu options.  Avoid choosing an appetizer, side, entrée and a dessert – choose only 2-3 options as part of your meal.

Brian Wansink – a famous scientist who studies how the environment affects our decisions of what and how much to eat – demonstrates how easily we can be tricked to over eat!  In one of his experiments, he gave 86 nutrition experts medium-sized or small bowls with ice cream.   He found that the group with the larger bowls ate 53% more ice cream than those with the smaller bowls without even realizing it and both groups reported being equally satisfied.  This illustrates that it is important to be mindful when we eat and a simple way to avoid being tricked is to eat from smaller bowls and normal-sized plates.

Learn about his “bottomless soup bowl” experiment and much more about how to avoid mindless eating @ http://mindlesseating.org/

Here are some other tips from the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics to “Get Your Plate in Shape”

  • Make half of your plate fruits and vegetables:
    • Variety is the name of the game! Pick from dark-green, red and orange vegetables.  Add beans and peas too!
    • Add 1 -2 servings of fruits and vegetables in each meal.
  • Make at least half your grains whole:
    • Brown rice, barley, oats, and whole-grain breads, cereals and pastas are great choices for your sides and ingredients.
    • Check the ingredients list on food packages to make sure “whole-grain” is listed as one of the first few ingredients.
  • Switch to fat-free or low-fat milk:
    • Choose fat-free and low-fat milk because they have the same amount of calcium and other essential nutrients as whole milk, but less fat and calories.
    • If you are lactose intolerant, try lactose-free milk or a calcium-fortified soy beverage.
  • Vary your protein choices:
    • Choose from a variety of foods from the protein food group each week: seafood, nuts, beans, lean meat, poultry and eggs.
    • Eat more plant-based protein: nuts, beans, whole soy foods (like edamame and tofu).
    • Limit your meat and poultry to 3 ounces per meal and make it lean.
    • Choose fish as your protein source at least twice a week.
  • Cut back on sodium and empty calories from solid fats and added sugars:
    • Choose “reduced sodium” or “no salt added” when buying canned items.  Compare sodium in foods and choose those with the least amount.  Rinse your canned vegetables to reduce sodium levels further.
    • Season your foods with herbs and spices instead of salt.
    • Switch from solid fats (butter, lard or shortening) to healthy oils like olive, canola and sunflower oil.
    • Drink water instead of sugary drinks like sodas, fruit flavoured drinks and sweetened teas/coffees.
    • choose fruit for dessert.
  • Be physically active your way:
    • Engage in physically activity for at least 2 hours and 30 minutes every week. You can split this into 10 min exercise, three times a day to stay motivated.
    • Choose activities that you enjoy, and start by doing as much as you can.

We’d love for you to share some ideas that has helped you to