This should be your plate for a healthy and balanced diet

Sure you remember studying the food pyramid in school, but would you be able to say what foods to include at each meal? And, above all, in what quantities?

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Yes, the graph can be explicit and, indeed, we all know that we should eat fruits and vegetables every day, meat and fish, and leave sweets for a few occasions … But, at the moment of truth, it seems that we do not interpret the information that gives us the best way.

For example, one of the food groups for daily consumption are carbohydrates (cereals, whole grains, bread, rice, pasta and potatoes); of these, 4 to 6 servings per day are recommended. And, in addition, it coincides with the fact that they occupy the most important and privileged place in the pyramid, the base; with what someone might think: “Good! I will be able to eat pasta and have dinner and I will still have two more servings to complete the day ”. But is the pyramid telling us to what extent we should combine foods? No, and that is where the error lies, according to many experts, who consider that one of the main culprits of overweight in the Western world is excess carbohydrates.

For this reason, for some time now, there has been talk of a new model that replaces and updates the previous one, as happened in the United States in 2011 with My Healthy Plate , in the form of a plate of food, and that includes the recommended healthy amounts. Thanks to these we know that a balanced diet is one whose energy comes from 40-45% of carbohydrates compared to the current 55-60%; 20-25% of proteins, compared to the current 15%; and 30-35% of fats (as shown in the illustration). Compared to our pyramid, following these recommendations, cereals and derivatives (potatoes, pasta and rice) would go up one notch, leaving vegetables to play a leading role.

How the ideal dish should be

The idea is that the main menu – lunch or dinner – be built on a normal-sized plate, about 23 centimeters in diameter, dividing it into four parts. In this way, half a plate – two quarters – will be salad or vegetables . A quarter of the plate will be for protein: eggs, meat or fish; the meat can be white or red – yes, with the least amount of fat possible – and the fish can be white or blue, it does not matter (about 100 grams of meat or 125 grams of fish are usually considered reasonable quantities). Finally, in the remaining quarter we will put the flours, such as rice, pasta, potatoes, legumes or also bread. The amount is important here, which depends on factors such as age, sex, weight or physical activity of each person …
As dessert, we must always include a piece of fruit : 1 orange or 2 tangerines, 1 pear or 1 peach, 2 kiwis, 1 Canary-type banana, 12-15 small cherries, 12 grams of grapes, 1 cut of melon or watermelon.

‘The plate’, the best prevention against diabetes

The ‘plate method’ has also been adopted by the team of professionals who have developed the Diabetes a la Carta initiative (www.diabetesalacarta.org) of the Alicia Foundation and Ciberdem (Center for Biomedical Research Network on Diabetes and Associated Metabolic Diseases ), with the collaboration of the pharmaceutical company Esteve. Through this system, they consider that people with diabetes (today is precisely the World Day against this disease) have more resources to make their menus and control the amount of carbohydrates in each intake (by blood glucose levels) ; contributing to a more balanced diet.

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