The Plate Method - Your plate shows you how balanced your (vegan) diet is
When you delve a little deeper into healthy eating, it can be quite confusing. So it's no wonder that nutritional science is a multi-year course of study... But healthy, balanced nutrition doesn't have to be strenuous. Luckily, there is help to make everyday life easier. One of them is the “Plate Method”. I would like to introduce these to you in more detail today.
Where do I begin?!
You probably know the “5 a day” recommendation from the German Nutrition Society , right? What this means is that 5 portions of vegetables and fruit a day (3 x vegetables, 2 x fruit) should be consumed to maintain health. In other words: 400 g of vegetables and 250 g of fruit daily should help us reduce the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease. There are of course further recommendations regarding other food subgroups such as grains, milk and meat. You've probably come across the food pyramid before. And as important as this type of information may be, it is not really practical or clear. Who weighs their food portions every day or measures portion sizes with their hands? Especially when cooking for several people?
A visual and much simpler method is the “Plate Method”. So take advantage of the plate that your meal ends up on anyway: it can give you a lot of information about how balanced your food is.
The Plate Method
The Teller Method is not a super innovative, groundbreaking new “invention.” Many advice centers and nutrition experts have been using them for a long time to clearly explain to people what exactly the individual components of a balanced diet should look like . The portion sizes are also visualized. There are different versions of the Plate Method: Specialized for children, (male and female) diabetics, allergy sufferers, vegetarians, etc. In this post I present the Plate Method for a plant-based diet, because I personally have a specification for this type of diet long missing.
So, now let's finally get to the point! :)
This is how the plate method works
1. Fruit and vegetables: ½ of the plate
The benefits of fruit and vegetables are (virtually) endless: vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber ... Whether raw, cooked, steamed, fried: vegetables can be served in many different ways. You can fill this half of your plate with all the local, seasonal vegetables and fruits you can find. Of course, the most important thing is that you choose foods that you enjoy!
You can also use the colors of the fruits and vegetables as a guide: green vegetables such as broccoli, leafy vegetables and cabbage are always recommended! Orange vegetables and fruit (which are often forgotten) can also end up on your plate in abundance. These include, for example, oranges, carrots, orange peppers and pumpkin. Don't forget that you can also use frozen fruit and vegetables here! This is sometimes a quick and easy addition or alternative to fresh products.
2. Cereals: ¼ of the plate
Grains are a great source of complex carbohydrates and fiber. Whole grains in particular ensure an increased fiber intake. Sources include oatmeal, rice, whole grain bread, pasta, bulgur, quinoa, millet, barley, amaranth and buckwheat .
Foods such as potatoes, lentils, beans and other legumes are often included in this category. In this variant of the plate method, legumes in particular belong to the next category, as they are primarily an important source of protein for vegans. In the end, you should simply be aware that some of these foods are also high in carbohydrates.
3. Vegetable proteins: ¼ of the plate
The last quarter of the plate should be filled with proteins. Among other things, proteins help us stay full for a long time and ensure that our blood sugar levels do not rise too quickly. Soy products such as tofu, tempeh and edamame should be mentioned here, but also seitan, peas, lentils, beans, chickpeas, and most meat substitute products .
But that's not it: A great way to incorporate more healthy fats and proteins into your diet are seeds and nuts . Sunflower seeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds, walnuts, peanuts, and various nut butters are just a few examples. These are particularly suitable as a topping for your meal. Not only do they provide an even more balanced diet, but they also provide that extra crunch!
The plate is full: is that it?
Not quite. There are three other categories that are important for a truly balanced diet: fats, calcium and, if necessary, nutritional supplements . You can incorporate these food categories directly into your meal, but you don't have to. You can also consume calcium as a drink, for example, and fats can often be incorporated into snacks. I would like to go into these three groups in a little more detail:
Calcium is important for the maintenance and growth of our bones , not just in children, but throughout our entire lives. Natural calcium sources should always be preferred over supplements. Soy milk contains a similar amount of calcium as cow's milk and can be easily incorporated into smoothies, porridge or chai lattes. Almond, cashew or coconut milk and yogurt are also great sources of calcium. Calcium is also found in leafy vegetables, beans and tahini, but in smaller amounts.
Fats are also essential in a balanced diet. They are very complex and important for many body functions . Many of us still believe that fats are bad and make us fat. That's not true, because essential omega-3 fatty acids are particularly important for a healthy diet. That's why we want to make sure we get enough of it. We should generally make sure that we get fats from rich foods that, in addition to fat, also contain fiber, vitamins and minerals. We can also use oils, but we should pay attention to the dosage.
Vegan sources of (healthy) fats include avocados, walnuts, almonds and cashews, seeds and kernels such as sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, linseeds, hemp seeds and chia seeds. We can also incorporate nuts, olives and coconut (e.g. coconut milk) into our meals as fat sources.
A topic that I don't want to get too carried away with, as it is also a very complex matter and difficult to understand at first. Dietary supplements may be more important for vegans than for people with an omnivorous diet. Vitamin B12 in particular is often contained in animal products, which is why vegans often supplement it. It may also be necessary to supplement vitamin D (depending on where you live, among other things) . A detailed blood test can provide information about whether or which vitamins and nutrients we are missing. I can also recommend Nico Rittenau’s book “Goodbye vegan cliché!” recommend. It covers topics such as dietary supplements, but also goes into all the other important nutrients in a vegan diet.
The Teller Method: A Conclusion
The Plate Method is intended to help you get an overview of your diet and your portion sizes for the individual components. However, it's not about meticulously moving your meals back and forth on your plate until you reach the recommended quantities exactly. By introducing this method, I don't want to mean that you will never be able to look at your plate in a relaxed manner again. The method is intended to offer us orientation and support our conscious food consumption . Sometimes the plate method cannot be applied very precisely. Best example: Porridge can be a very healthy and balanced breakfast, but usually contains more grains than fruit and vegetables ;) .
Once you have dealt with the topic a little, you will notice that over time you will automatically get a better sense of a balanced composition. Your diet doesn’t always have to be “perfect” (whose diet does?), what’s more important is that you eat consciously. :)
If you would like to find out more about the topics of healthy eating, mindfulness or sustainability, take a look here .