Have You Done A Plate Check Lately?

Portion sizes

Stephanie Karpinske, R.D. is the Lehman family’s nutrition coach for the Healthy Family Challenge.

You always hear that you should eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. But what’s a serving? Five baby carrots? Half a banana? Serving sizes can be confusing because they vary for different fruits and vegetables. So rather than trying to figure out how much lettuce equals a serving or how many grapes fill a cup, simply do a quick “plate check.”

Before you start a meal, review what’s on your plate. Half of it should contain fruits and veggies. If it doesn’t, you need to make some adjustments. I asked the Lehmans to do the “plate check” at every meal as a reminder to eat more fruits and vegetables. If their plate was mostly meat and grains, they could see that they needed to add more fruits and veggies to their meals. If they had vegetables at a meal but no fruit, they knew to include fruit as a snack later in the day.

The “half-plate” rule is easy to remember so it’s great for kids. It’s also helpful when you’re eating out. For instance, if you have a choice of sides and you’re thinking of the “half-plate” rule, you may decide to order a vegetable side dish or a salad instead of rice, pasta, or bread.

Give the “plate check” a try. And if you want to see a visual for how to divide your plate, go to choosemyplate.gov.

What’s the usual make-up of your plates? Post a comment and let me know!

Through her Des Moines-based nutrition company, SK Health Communications, registered dietitian Stephanie Karpinske writes and develops recipes for magazines, books, supermarkets and food companies. She is the author of Read Before Dieting: Your 4-Step Plan for Diet Success and writes a blog about healthy eating, foodnuti.com. She’s coaching the Lehman family through the six-month Healthy Family Challenge.