Be sure to choose a plate that works for you, not against you. Pick a plate that is no larger than 10 inches across, since a properly sized plate can help you avoid oversize portions. Make sure to measure, since a plate that is just two more inches across can increase your portions by 44 percent. Only fill your plate inside the rim.
Following the new MyPlate food guide by making half your plate fruits and vegetables is a sure way to slim down. Fruits and vegetables are packed with nutrients but provide relatively few calories. Try sneaking some fruit into salads by tossing pears and strawberries with spinach. If speed is what you need, frozen vegetables can be a good option and are just as nutritious as fresh vegetables.
About a quarter of your plate should be filled with grains, especially whole grains. Unlike refined grains such as white bread and white rice, whole grain foods have not had the healthful bran and germ removed. (And "germ" here refers to part of the seed, not bacteria!) In addition to the vitamins and minerals provided by whole grains, they are also a good source of fiber, to keep you feeling full longer. Look for 100 percent whole wheat bread for sandwiches or microwaveable brown rice pouches that are ready in 90 seconds for a speedy side with dinner. Swap out refined sugary cereals for thick-cut oats.
A portion of protein should fit inside a quarter of your plate. Although red meat can be higher in saturated fat than other choices, if you shop carefully, red meat can still make it to your menus on occasion. Let the label be your guide. Choose cuts with the words "round" or "loin," as in top round or sirloin, since these are among the leanest options. Buy those with the least amount of solid, visible fat.
The bone-building dairy group is represented as a circle next to the MyPlate guide, which can translate to a glass of skim milk or small cup of low-fat yogurt or cottage cheese. To get all of the calcium and protein without the added saturated fat and calories, choose fat-free or low-fat (1 percent) milk and yogurt. Opt for reduced-fat cheeses, which still retain a pleasing texture and taste. Try thick and creamy 0 percent fat Greek yogurt, which serves up twice the protein of regular yogurt.
Overall, the MyPlate boils down to eating a larger portion of plant foods, and a smaller portion of high fat animal-based foods. For more information on the USDA's MyPlate food guide, check out www.choosemyplate.gov.