Four different pictures of well balanced plates using the Plate Method

Plate Method 🌶 Vegan Nutrition 🌶 Vegan Beginner

Tired of the nonsense of dieting, the pressure of controlling what you eat and the mindset that the more restrictive is your diet the closer to right you are? So was I. You need to meet the Plate Method. That’s when I decided to go back to the basics and get to know my food. And mind you, w made peace with each other.

So now I invite you to take a look at this guide even if you think you have all the answers already. Just because it can be simpler. Good food and listen to our body, dare we?🌶

What is The Plate Method

Is a technique that guide us in balancing what we eat daily by using proportions of the food groups. As simple as eating should be, isn’t it?

Just a little explanation about these food groups of ours: You might have noticed that some sources divide them in 3 or even up to 7 categories, so let’s not stress about it. It’s only a matter of grouping the same food.

Now we take a step back to understand why we need these groups of food every single day.

Nutrients, of course.

And why do we need those?

Experts classify them as “essential” because our body can’t make them, but requires them for growth and maintenance, repair, disease prevention and so on.

The essential nutrients:

  • Carbohydrate
  • Protein
  • Fat
  • Vitamins
  • Minerals
  • Water

These 6 categories are divided in 2 types of nutrients.


Macronutrients

Make for most of our diet. They are the carbs, protein and fat.

Micronutrients

We need them in much smaller amount. Smaller is not less important, water is micro for example…

Vitamins and minerals are the micro ones.


The Food Groups (Omnivorous) you will find in the Plate Method

Mosaic of pictures with grains, milk , fruits, legumes and vegetables, that compose the Plate Method
  • Grains
  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Meat (and substitutes), Fish (and substitutes), Beans
  • Milk (and substitutes)

And the pillars

  • Calcium
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin B12
  • Healthy oils
  • Water

A bit about the Groups

🌶Calcium

They do: In addition to building bones and keeping them healthy, calcium enables our blood to clot, our muscles to contract and our heart to beat

If we are not getting enough of this mineral in our diet the body will extract it from our bones.

Sources: Dairy and substitutes (when fortified).

🌶Vitamin D

They do: Regulates the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, also facilitates normal immune system function.

Only getting enough calcium won’t be enough, without this vitamin we face some of the same risks of not having enough calcium.

Sources: sunlight, fatty fish and seafood, mushrooms, egg yolks, fortified foods, supplement, UV lamp.

🌶Vitamin B12

They do: It supports the normal function of your nerve cells and is needed for red blood cell formation and DNA synthesis.

Sources: as it is naturally found in animal foods the omnivorous and vegetarians are usually good to go.

For those following a vegan diet it can be found in the fortified version of cereals, nutritional yeast (especially high percentage) and nondairy milk.

There are also supplements quite easy to come by.

🌶Healthy Oils

We do need a small amount of fat in our diet for healthy functioning. We actually need it!

They do: Oils and fats supply calories and essential fats help the body absorb some vitamins (classified as fat-soluble), such as A, D. E and K.

Here is really important to understand the type of fat thou. Type and amount are key when talking about fat and oil consumption.

Sources: some of the “good guys” when it comes to oils are palm, olive, coconut, avocado. And the healthier fats can be found in avocados, ghee, organic whole eggs, fatty fish, nuts, all seeds. These are examples of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

The not so healthy choices can be found on margarines, canola, soybean, sunflower, safflower, corn and grapeseed oils (factory made oils). Also processed meats, non-dairy creamers and all trans fats.

Mosaic with pictures of olives, nuts and oil, that compose the Plate Method

I get that fats and oils are tricky, they go from super healthy, but to be consumed in super small quantities to plain horrible for our healthy. Not to mention the in-betweens that I didn’t even venture in writing about in this post.

So just check this easy to digest article from the Harvard Medical School. I promise we can understand it. The truth about fats: the good, the bad, and the in-between

🌶Water

It makes up on average 60% of an adult’s body weight, from 31% in bones to 83% in lungs.

It seems reason enough for me but it doesn’t hurt to mention some of the key functions:

  • Carries nutrients ta all cells in our body and oxygen to our brain
  • Allows the body to absorb and assimilate minerals vitamins, amino acids, glucose and other substances
  • Flushes out toxins and waste
  • Helps to regulate body temperature
  • Act as a lubricant for joints and muscles

Knowing the Benefits of our nutrients; having organized where we can Source them from and what each group can bring to the table, we can now group our food groups and arrange them on our… PLATE.

Graphic figure of the Plate Method

Plate break down and a few gathered tips that will help you make the most of it.

🌶Vegetables

Tips: Just another reminder that starches are not included here (like potato, corn, peas).

Adding veggies like zucchini or spinach to “sweet” servings like a smoothie will help you balance your vegetables/fruits intake and you won’t even notice they are there.

🌶Fruits

Tips: Attention to pre-fabricated fruit juices. Way too much sugar alert!

A variety of fruits is necessary, since no vegetables or fruits can provide all the necessary nutrients alone. So go for different colors and you are sorted.

If the made at home fruit juices are much better than the ready ones, the whole fruit is even healthier. But don’t go crazy here, if slicing, juicing, blending makes you consume more fruit, go for it with no guilt.

🌶Grains and Starches

Tips: Whole grain are always better as they are rich in fiber and don’t raise your blood sugar levels so try to limit the amount of refined grains consumed. Play with all the different flours if you like to cook.

🌶Proteins

Tips:  Soaking before cooking increases nutrients absorption.

If you are omnivorous, give the rich veggies a try!


Final thoughts

I sincerely wish this can work as a guide.

We all have our preferences, budget, time of preparation, health issues and so many other things to consider when eating. So let those personal necessities be our guide.

And the easier, healthier and more normal way to do that is to get to know our food and tummies.

Let’s STRESS-FREE ENJOY our food, shall we?!

By the way, if you wish to continue learning…


References and Inspiration

My references are listed below but I also wanted to share another couple of Plate articles too. HarvardHealth Eating Plate

It’s a post from an awesome vegan blogger/vlogger. If you don’t know it yet, worth checking it out. Pick Up Limes – The Vegan Plate Method

The Plate Method article from the Harvard School of Public Health. Super informative and surprisingly easy to digest.

Up to learn some more? Try our Vegan Taste Substitutes post.


References:

Boston University Nutrition Center

National Osteoporosi Foundation

American Academy of Family Physicians

Harvard Nutrition Training Session PDF

HealthlineVitamin D

American Heart Association

European Federation of Bottled Waters


With gratitude,

Carol🌶

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