On our social pages we started dealing with the topic “The balanced plate”, but what does it mean and how is it composed?
To create our balanced dishes we were inspired by the "Healthy Eating Plate" project, a graphic guide created by the nutrition experts of the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, which in a very clear and simple way explains how to create healthy and balanced meals. !
The graphic representation of the "Plate of healthy eating" idealizes a plate divided into 4 wedges of different sizes depending on the category of food they represent: simply by following the proportions indicated we can compose balanced and healthy meals inspired by the Mediterranean diet.
This dish can represent the food day: you can choose to compose the two main meals (lunch and dinner) in a similar way and therefore as in the image, or by keeping the same ingredients you can unbalance one meal towards cereals and the other towards proteins, bearing in mind that the important thing is that at the end of the day the total supply of nutrients is complete and in the right quantities.
According to this guide, each meal must consist of:
- VEGETABLES AND FRUITS: must occupy at least the half of the dish, leaving the preponderant part to the vegetables! They provide vitamins, mineral salts, antioxidants and fiber, with a low energy density. Try to choose fruits and vegetables of different colors and varieties, possibly also according to seasonality so they will be richer in micronutrients and their cost will be lower!
- WHOLE GRAINS: This food category represents the main source of carbohydrates and must occupy a quarter of the whole meal. These foods contribute to the intake of fiber but also B vitamins and minerals and therefore also in this case it is always good to vary the sources. Whole grains as well as pseudocereals have a slower and more contained effect on blood sugar than refined grains which should instead be limited. This category also includes tubers such as potatoes which, despite being vegetables, represent a source of starch and therefore must be considered on a par with cereals and derivatives.
- FISH, MEAT, EGGS, MILK AND DERIVATIVES, DRIED FRUITS AND LEGUMES: must occupy the last fourth of the dish and represent animal and vegetable sources of protein! It is generally recommended to consume proteins from healthy foods that also provide other valuable nutrients such as in the case of fish and nuts that contribute to the intake of omega-3! White meats should be consumed at most 2-3 times a week, limiting red meats to a maximum of once a week. Legumes are an excellent source of vegetable proteins, carbohydrates and fibers: soy in particular is used for the production of derived foods such as tofu and tempeh which represent valid solutions for consuming foods with a high protein content for those who choose a diet vegetarian.
- To complete the balanced dish it must NEVER MISS a source of GOOD FATS: prefer Extra Virgin Olive Oil, a source not only of unsaturated fats such as oleic acid but also of vitamin E which has an important antioxidant action! Better to limit the butter and avoid margarines due to the excessive presence of saturated fats and in many cases of hydrogenated fats.
Also don't forget to DRINK WATER, essential for maintaining the functions of the organism. We recommend about 8-10 glasses a day to ensure a good level of hydration! Limit dairy products to 1-2 servings per day and it is also best to avoid sugary drinks to limit your sugar intake!
In conclusion, speaking of balanced nutrition, we cannot fail to mention the importance of physical activity! Exercising daily represents the other half of the apple needed together with a healthy diet to stay in an optimal state of health !!
- Healthy Eating Plate. Available at https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-eating-plate/
- The healthy dish. Available at https://smartfood.ieo.it/be-smart/piatto-sano/