L.E.A.N. Guide Ahead of the USDA
When I wrote my book last year, I recommended a plate portioning model for eating, referring to the image above, from the American Diabetic Association. What a surprise that the USDA has finally caught up and has ditched the food pyramid and from now on will be promoting the following:
The first line of defense in eating L.E.A.N. is to try to eat a balanced diet. Remember, I don’t believe in “diet” as a verb, I mean this in terms of the variety and amounts of what you eat. Despite the claims of several fad diets, we do need carbs in our bodies, to survive and thrive. While the recommended amounts of carbohydrates have definitely gone down in recent years, even the new guidelines do not eliminate them, by any means. We need carbs, but we need to eat good carbs. By now everyone should know that that means eating mostly whole grains, and staying away from the “white” foods – including potatoes, white rice, and white flour (and refined starches).
What many may not realize is that the natural sugars in fruits and some vegetables count as a carb, too. It’s not necessary to eat something full of starch (like a potato) to get your carbs. As the USDA still recommends, eating a balance of fruits and vegetables is optimum. Since these foods are also usually lower calorie than the “white” foods, you are also saving calories. However, some people will find that even the sugars in fruit affect their weight, metabolism or how the body processes those carbs so it might still be better to stick to the Diabetics Association version with HALF your plate aiming for vegetables.
As a rule, the more dark green vegetables you can eat, the better. The good news is that non-starchy vegetables are very low in calories and high in nutrients. You can almost eat as much of these as you want. However, once again, to be the most successful in your quest for a L.E.A.N. lifestyle, the emphasis is on balance.
In reality, a balanced diet is all in the portions. Some people do better with visual guidelines, rather than just numbers, so the move to the plate graphic is a good one. Further help might come if you imagine that a small apple would be close to the size of a tennis ball. A good size for a potato would be the size of a computer mouse. Just 3 oz of meat would be the size of your fist, and probably close to the best portion for your plate. Happy L.E.A.N. eating and thanks USDA for promoting a better balance!