How the Half-Plate Rule can Help You Eat Healthier

After a few months of an over-packed schedule that lead to skipping workouts and going through drive thrus when I was short on time, I decided it was time to take my health back. I'm morally opposed to any and all fad diets, juice cleanses and obsessively counting calories. I also believe that if your liver and kidneys are functioning properly, there is absolutely no need for a detox. However, I'm a big believer in intuitive eating and following my body's natural hunger signals. My view of eating is basically eat when you're hungry, stop when you're satisfied, try to eat healthy foods and go out for pizza if you've been craving it for days.

Recently, I was watching a documentary, In Defense of Food, on Netflix. I'm always a little skeptical of Netflix's food documentaries because the "experts" don't always carry many credentials and the documentaries overall seem extremely bias with little to no coverage of an opposing argument. In this one documentary, I picked up on a rule that seemed pretty reasonable and doable: The Half-Plate Rule.

This rule explains that when you're dishing up your plate, try to make one half of it fruits and vegetables. Healthy proteins and carbs can fill up the other half. It also helps shift the main focus of the meal from meat to vegetables. Instead of thinking about what vegetables to pair with the protein, you switch to what protein to pair with vegetables. 

According to to a study by the Center for Disease Control, only 1 in 10 Americans eats enough fruits and vegetables each day. I definitely fell into the majority of this statistic. The Half Plate Rule seemed like an easy way to make sure I was getting enough fruits and vegetables each day without giving up foods I love. It seemed like an easy, one-way ticket to health without eating like a caveman or starving myself on an all-liquid diet.

This study from the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior analyzed different visual eating techniques. In a sample size of 53 adults, those who used the Half-Plate Rule consumed an average of 324 less calories on a weekday and ate more vegetables than the control group. While there definitely needs to be more research on this eating style, the results from this small study are promising.

After trying this style of eating out for a few weeks, I can say it definitely works for me. I can't say that all of my meals are perfect, especially when eating out, but it has helped me improve my eating habits. Here's a picture below of one of my lunches consisting of homemade chicken fried rice and a Caesar salad from this past week:

I followed a recipe for a healthier version of chicken fried rice, but the Half-Plate Rule did help pack in some added vegetables. It was an easy way to avoid overeating unhealthy foods while still enjoying them.

One of the biggest reasons it works for me is that I don't need to give up my favorite foods. For example, I'm pretty sure macaroni and cheese is my soulmate, but when I try to eat the recommended serving size, I still feel hungry. This leads to eating more mac and cheese and more unhealthy habits. This rule allows me to get my fix while still feeling full. If I fill half of my plate with fruit or veggies and the other with a spoonful of mac and cheese, I'm happy and satisfied by the end of the meal.

If you're looking for an easier way to eat healthy, I would definitely try this out. Every person is different, but this rule is definitely one I can follow.