Do you have trouble eating well? Do you find it hard to follow nutritional guidelines? The Balanced Plate is a simple visual tool for putting together meals for pregnant women and small children.
The Balanced Plate is a guide to making complete meals. It’s easy to apply and can be used as a guide for baby’s nutrition as early as age 1.
What to put on a balanced plate
Take a look at your plate and imagine that it’s divided into three equal parts. Ideally, you should see :
⅓ grain products
Bread, pasta, rice, couscous, barley, etc. Use whole grains whenever possible.
⅓ protein foods
Poultry, meat, fish, seafood, eggs, beans, nuts, cheese, tofu, etc.
Colourful and varied vegetables, cooked or raw.
To complete the meal:
- Add a glass of milk or a milk alternative like a fortified soya beverage or yogourt, and
- Fruit, whether it’s fresh, frozen, in a compote or in preserves
The glass of milk and the fruit are both part of your balanced meal. Without them, the meal isn’t complete. You can have them for dessert or as a snack if you’re not hungry after eating your main meal
At all times of the day, water should be your first choice if you’re feeling thirsty.
Here’s a picture illustrating what you should see on the plate of a pregnant woman or young child. The only change will be the amount of food, which should match how hungry each person is
What to do with dishes that combine foods
Foods like Shephard’s Pie, Tex-Mex Macaroni or Chickpea and Vegetable Couscous are made up of several different ingredients. You don’t have to separate them to figure out if your plate is balanced. As long as all the food groups are present, in roughly equal amounts, then your plate is balanced! All that’s left is to round out your meal with a glass of milk and a piece of fruit.
Each Olo recipe lists what food groups it contains, and suggests what to add on the side to round out your meal and make it balanced. That makes it even easier to eat complete meals!
Are some of your meals less balanced?
Don’t worry! The important thing is to look at your diet overall. It’s possible—and even normal—that some meals are not perfectly balanced, especially on special nights or when eating out. But that’s nothing to worry about.
If your main dish doesn’t have every food group in it, just add some sides. You can also add the food groups you missed at snack time or in your next meals.
- Add grain products…
- by eating crackers, pita, a slice of bread or an English muffin.
- Add protein to the meal…
- by completing it with a bean salad or canned lentils, nuts, cheese, or canned fish or seafood.
- Add vegetables
- by eating cut raw vegetables (carrots, celery, broccoli, peppers), soup, salad or frozen vegetables.
Why do we need a balanced diet?
Meals have to provide our body with energy quickly while keeping us feeling satisfied until the next meal or snack. The Balanced Plate has everything pregnant women and young children need for healthy development.
But keep in mind that the body digests food in 3 to 4 hours. So, even if the meal is perfectly balanced, it’s normal to get hungry between meals. That’s why you should add snacks to satisfy your hunger.
Writing : Fondation Olo
Scientific review : Mylène Duplessis Brochu, nutritionist, Dt.P., M.Sc.