Delicious Plate, Healthy Too
Updated: Oct 4, 2021
This week - a Salud week - I will focus on how to think about what to put on your plate. Before I begin, I need to start by saying that I love delicious food. Food is to be enjoyed, revered, shared with those we love. So it is from that place that I share evidence-based nutritional information to create meals that rival restaurant food and support your health all at once.
We all have likely heard how we need more vitamins and minerals and fiber - and the goal is to find these in food, not in the supplement section of your favorite store. In medical school we didn't learn much about nutrition - I know this is often shocking to people. We learned a lot about diseases of the body and how to treat them, we learned about basic vitamins, and that's it. A lot of missed opportunity and I'm happy to report that things are changing. There are over 40 medical schools that now have culinary medicine in their curriculum. This is a giant movement towards helping our collective health.
80% of all premature deaths are attributable to three factors: tabacco use, poor diet and lack of physical activity (Danaei G PLoS Med. 2009 Apr; 6(4): e1000058.) So, let's begin to tackle one of those three now - what we eat, what we put on our plate.
It is never too late, no matter age, or number of medication bottles, diagnosis on your medical chart, income level, palate, lack of time. Let me tell you a smile-making story. One of my favorite culinary medicine event memories, was working with the Better Breathers Club of the American Lung Association. An amazing group of women, some with oxygen tanks in tow, with an average age in their 70's. We spent double the time we were supposed to have together because of their utmost engagement. Questions, tasting, learning from one another. I was thrilled for the experience, and better yet, to receive photos from them days and weeks later of the creations they had made based on what we had learned together. Inspiring for sure.
So - lets start simple: think of your plate - a round plate: fill 1/2 of it with vegetables and fruit, 1/4 with well thought-out protein, and 1/4 with whole grains. You don't need to keep it separate, toddler-style, you can mix and match - it is the ratios you want to keep intact. Here's a great resource and is available in multiple languages:
Find your comfortable language, print it out and put it somewhere visible in your kitchen. (We keep ours inside a kitchen cabinet for easy reference).
The taco photo above fits this criteria: loaded medley of vegetables, beans for our well thought-out protein, and the corn tortilla is a whole grain. Mexican tacos for the win! You could even add a delicious homemade salsa, which adds even more from the vegetable kingdom. Next week I'll share the recipe for those tacos, so stay tuned.
Aside from the plate - truly think about what you are drinking. Goal is to get to a point that you are drinking water, unsweetened black tea or black coffee as your beverages. If you are someone who drinks a lot of items that aren't those 3, I encourage you to try to increase these three and slowly cut back on other beverages, we will get into this in another Salud week.
So, I leave you with the plate visual and thinking about it as you bring food into your home. What ingredients can you buy to start filling your plate with more vegetables and fruit, more whole grains, and playing around with more legumes (eg. beans, hummus, lentils)
I would love to hear any recipes you love that incorporate any of the components I mentioned today: whole grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes.
Feel free to share and comment by going to 'Go To Blog' below, or contact me with your thoughts.
Next week is recipe week, see you then,
In the meantime,
Sabrina A. Falquier Montgrain, MD