Healthy Eating With the Plate Method


One approach to eating a healthy, well-balanced diet is the plate method. The plate method involves dividing a dinner plate into imaginary sections and using each section for a specific group of food.

A version of the plate method is MyPlate from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). With MyPlate, the plate is divided into four different sections, plus an added serving of dairy.

Half of the plate should contain fruits and vegetables, with vegetables covering approximately two-thirds and fruit covering the other one-third. The other half of the plate should contain grains and proteins in equal amounts. At least half of the grains consumed in a day should be whole grains. Proteins should focus on lean meats, fish and vegetarian protein options.

The following are examples of foods that can be used in each section:

  • Vegetables — Non-starchy fresh, frozen, or low-sodium canned vegetables, such as broccoli, peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, cauliflower, spinach
  • Fruits — Fresh, frozen, or canned fruits (in water, not syrup) of all colors
  • Grains — Whole-wheat bread, oatmeal, brown rice, whole grain pasta (limit refined products, such as white bread and white rice)
  • Protein — Lean beef, poultry, seafood, beans, soy products, eggs (avoid bacon and other processed meats)
  • Dairy — Low-fat milk, yogurt, cheese, calcium-fortified soy milk (limit to 1-2 servings a day)

The amount of food that should be in each section varies depending on age, sex, and level of physical activity. The USDA provides a MyPlate Plan on their website ChooseMyPlate.gov which takes these factors into account and provides recommendations.

Using the plate method ensures that meals are balanced, containing a variety of macro and micronutrients that the body needs. In addition, the plate method focuses on fruit and vegetable intake, which can help reduce inflammation in the body. Because inflammation often contributes to chronic pain, increasing daily servings of fruits and vegetables may reduce pain levels.