Dietitians Dish: Sensible plan for losing, maintaining weight

By Stephanie Whitley
Aug. 20, 2013 at 3:20 a.m.

Fad diets will never be the answer to keeping a healthy weight throughout a lifetime.

Studies show most people who diet gain even more weight when the diet is over - and that's the sinker.

It is very unrealistic to think you will never eat a certain food again for the rest of your life. Can you really imagine living to 88 and never eating a slice of bread again? Whatever the diet restriction may be, I want to give you a more realistic way of maintaining a healthy weight in which you can go to any restaurant, be a gracious dinner guest, and most of all, enjoy any food. It is the Food Plate Method.

From toddler to grandma to diabetic diet to kidney failure diet, every one can use the Food Plate Method as a guideline for healthy eating and a healthy weight.

You may have seen the Food Plate Method, especially if you have a young child in school. The Food Plate Method has replaced the Food Pyramid and is being taught in schools today. The design is simple; Fill half of your plate with fruits and vegetables, one-quarter with protein and the last quarter with any of your starch/carbohydrate foods.

You may also have a serving of dairy on the side. Of course, the goal is to choose healthy options for each section. Unless everything is fried or covered in cheese sauce, this will be a generally low to moderate calorie way to eat.

Fruits and vegetables are high in fiber and water content, so those will fill your stomach and provide fewer calories. Make sure to avoid heavily salted vegetables and sweetened, canned fruit. Lean protein that only takes up one-quarter of an average dinner plate (not including the rim) is the goal.

While that may seem like a small portion to Texans, this is actually the appropriate size for adults. In truth, your body can only absorb and use about 3-4 ounces of meat at a time, which looks like the size of a deck of cards or the palm of your hand. Therefore, any additional protein you eat will go directly into fat storage - yikes.

The starch/carbohydrate category can get a little confusing. Fill this quarter of your plate with any grain or cereal products and starchy vegetables, which are potatoes, corn, green peas, beans/legumes and winter squash (pumpkin, butternut and acorn).

If you are trying to lose weight, place your dessert serving in the starch/carbohydrate category. Otherwise, just have a small dessert on occasion in addition to your meal. When choosing your side of dairy, the best choice would be a reduced-fat version with no added sugar.

Don't be tempted to think that this method will not work because it sounds too simple.

Fad diets come and go for a reason: Because they do not work for your entire life time nor are they flexible to life changes and special occasions. Enjoy your food in moderation, get a little bit of everything and, meal by meal, eat your way to a healthier you.

Stephanie Whitley is a registered and licensed dietitian DeTar Healthcare Systems. Send questions or comments to



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