Building a Balanced Plate


Before I start, I wanted to thank everyone that read and commented on my last post! It seems like that is a post that resonated with quite a few people, and I am excited to write more on the topic.

My life has been incredibly hectic lately. My husband and I bought a house and we moved to a brand new town, and I started a new job at work. I also will have my final for my Nutritional Therapy Practitioner course coming up in June, and then I will finally graduate! It’s pretty bitter sweet for me. On the one hand, I will be happy to stop studying and finally be certified, but on the other hand, I have enjoyed this program so much that I will be sad for it to be over.

Kitchen in my house!

To get back to some health related news, I wanted to talk today about how I approach building my plate. Now that we are done going through the macronutrients, it’s time to put it all together. Remember, the ratio we are starting off from is:

40% carbohydrates

30% protein

30% fat

However, because each person is unique both in ancestry and dietary goals, this ratio might look slightly different for you. If you track your calories in an App like MyFitnessPal you can actually enter these ratios in as part of your goals, and check how you are doing in terms of your macronutrients. I recently started doing this and it was quite revealing to see how my meals were breaking down. If tracking calories gives you anxiety, don’t  pay attention to the calorie goal, just see how you are doing in terms of the macronutrient breakdown. Also, you don’t have to do this every day, but it is a good way to gauge where you are starting out.

Day where I got pretty close to my goals

Below is a brief template for how I counsel my clients to approach each of their meals. This approach will make sure that you are focused on getting all of the necessary vitamins and minerals you need each day as well as the appropriate macronutrients.

  1. Start with vegetables
    • You want to make sure your plate is made up of mostly vegetables. And yes, this is possible for breakfast as well as lunch and dinner! I think breakfast is a great time to try and add veggies in, and if you get off to a good start for your first meal of the day, I think you are more likely to continue on that path going forwards. Be sure to eat a variety of vegetables in a variety of colors. Each color vegetable has different vitamins and minerals. I can sometimes get stuck in the habit of making sweet potatoes and carrots (all orange) and have to look at my plate to remind me to get some more color on there!
  2. Add in 4-6 oz of protein
    • Every meal should have protein. Protein will fill you up and allow you to retain muscle even if you’re losing weight. The typical portion size is the palm of your hand. If you are having additional snacks during the day, you also want to make sure you aren’t just having something like a granola bar, and you are including protein. If you eat animal protein, don’t get stuck in always just eating chicken. Eating wild caught fish is an amazing source of protein and healthy Omega-3 fats as well. For more protein ideas, see back to my post here
  3. Add fat
    • While you are probably cooking some of your meals in fat, you may also need to add extra to your food. Don’t be afraid to add some fat on top. Adding some butter for a sweet potato, or avocado on a salad is a great way to get in healthy fat. This will help you feel more satiated with your meals and you won’t be hungry one hour later.
  4. Include a small serving of a starchy carbohydrate
    • Depending on your health goals, you may or may not add in a starchy carbohydrate like potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice, quinoa, plantains, pasta, etc. I usually add in at least a half of a sweet potato or half a cup of rice to meals, and definitely make sure I do this post workout. However, if you are used to eating high amounts of these starchy carbohydrates, you may want to give your body a break as they can still trigger an insulin response in the body.


While this “recipe” for building a plate is pretty simplistic, it will give you a solid foundation for how you should think about each meal. If you are basing an entire meal around pasta for example, this will help you refocus and instead think about your protein and vegetable selection, and then maybe add a small serving (~1/2 cup) of some rice, pasta, or other starchy vegetable.

Thank you again for reading! If you have any nutrition related questions that you would like to see a blog post about, please be sure to let me know!

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  1. Thanks Alli for the great tips! Will start to look at my plate with a new set of eyes. One that looks at color!!

  2. This is awesome!! I keep referring back to it when I’m making meals. And I feel better when I run!

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