Personalize Your Plate

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Contributed by
Allison Drake, MS, RD, CDCES

Healthy eating can be something for which we have an idea of what we “should” be doing, but it is unfortunately something we naturally do not want to do. Why is that? I would have to venture that we are creating this idea based on how someone else may eat or what someone else has once told you about healthy eating.

This year, try focusing on foods that you love and enjoy that are also nutritious and healthful. Start by thinking of some meals you enjoyed while you were growing up, I bet you could probably think of some favorites and also identify some healthy things about them. Being true to the foods you enjoy and want to eat is really the only sustainable way to approach a healthy lifestyle. I like to tell my patients, “You hate cauliflower? Well don’t eat cauliflower!” There are so many healthy foods to choose from, so focus on the healthy foods you love and go from there.

Trying new foods and new ways to prepare foods you already love is also another great way to personalize your plate. I personally do not like boiled Brussels sprouts, but when I buy them fresh, slice them, drizzle with oil, add salt and pepper and roast them in the oven, I can’t get enough. Cooking methods can change the way foods taste and also the texture, which can play a large role in how we enjoy our foods.

A good reminder on how to build a healthy plate, personalized to you, is to be sure to fill half your plate with non-starchy vegetables. Some examples of non-starchy vegetables are salad, yellow squash, asparagus, broccoli, green beans, okra, onions, peppers, tomatoes, collards and carrots, to name a few, but the list really goes on and on. If you read this and think, “I really do not like any of those!” I would encourage you to do a quick web search for list of non-starchy vegetables, and I bet you will find some that you do like. Once you have your plate half full of non-starchy vegetables, add in protein for one fourth of your plate and then a carbohydrate for the last fourth. Following this simple guide will help you better build a healthy meal.

For a personalized meal plan, contact your local Registered Dietitians at the Diabetes and Nutrition Center of EAMC at (334) 528-6800 or diabetesandnutritioncenter@eamc.org.

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