We don’t have the whole family together often anymore, it’s hard with everyone having such different schedules.
So when we do all get together, I try to spend just a few minutes looking at my kids, their significant others, and just admiring that we are all in one family, mine. Oh, the love.
The feeling shifts when I start looking at their plates. Our son really doesn’t like vegetables that much and now that he is an adult with his own family, I don’t hassle him, but sometimes his plate is simply meat and potatoes. His wife has some digestive issues, so her plate is quite often full of veggies because she can digest them and not the protein as easily. I have one daughter that eats like a bird but the other doesn’t. I look at my husband’s plate and it is full, he is always hungry, mine, I try to watch my portions. Not too much of this and more of that.
But, what should our plates actually look like? What are appropriate portion sizes?
The Canadian food guide is actually going through changes as we sit and read this very article. This is sometimes controversial with its content, but it is the guide that our kids learn about in school and most doctors use as a rule of thumb. But let’s be honest, when was the last time you actually served a properly balanced meal let alone went to a restaurant and got served one.
Whether you agree with the food guide or not, generally, and apparently, we need a guide to tell us how to eat in a balanced fashion. People will have their own spin on the details. If you are a vegetarian, nutritionally you still need the same balance, just with other options. And obviously allergies in some foods and whether you are over or under weight will play a role in quantities and alternatives. In this day and age we should all have no excuses about what we should eat to stay healthy, but here is a link to the guide as it is today.
Not only should we be aware of what we should eat, we should be able to figure how much we should eat. Generally, restaurant meals are simply too large. And generally, there is very little balance. Too many carbs and not enough veggies.
Here is a simple way to judge your portion sizes without having to get a measuring cup or scale out at your dinner table.
- The tip of your finger is approximately 1 teaspoon. The amount of butter for your toast.
- The front of your clenched fist is approximately 1⁄2 cup. Which is 1 serving of pasta, rice, veggies, or fruit.
- The size of your palm is approximately 3 oz. This is roughly a serving of protein for women per meal.
- A clenched fist is approximately 1 cup. This is a double portion of ice cream.
- Your thumb to your first knuckle is approximately 1 tbsp. Use both thumbs for a portion of peanut butter.
The other thing that most people don’t think about is how large is their plate. We really don’t need to eat off of a plate that could be a platter. The general plate size for most homes is larger than need be. If you were to fill your 9” plate vs filling a 12” plate, there could be as much as 500 more calories because we tend to fill our plates.
If you were to divide your plate visually by what you should be eating it should look like this.
- Half of your plate should be veggies. Not starchy veggies, salad, green beans, asparagus, leafy veggies, veggies with generally great colour.
- The other half of your plate should be divided in half again. One portion is for your protein.
- The other for your starchy veggies, pasta, rice, or bread.
Keep in mind that these are guidelines so that you should be full or at least satisfied and your basic nutrition has been covered.
“Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie.” – Jim Davis