The Grateful Plate
The purpose of the grateful plate is to help guide you to a nutrient dense diet.
This guide is not about diets, macros, keto or paleo. It is simply a template for a nutrient dense purpose filled diet that you can use as a guide. This plate is designed for you to be anywhere and be able to “eyeball” what you need.
If you are a 6’4” fireman or a 5’6” mom your plate size might be a bit different, but the proportions here are a good place to start. Remember that not all nutrition advice works for everyone. Those of you with a lot of inflammation may leave the grains out and eat more fats. Those of you with a heavy work out regimen may be able to afford more of the carbohydrates.
With all that being said there are some basic rules of thumb that this graphic gives you. Every single one of my patients takes this home. I find it very useful for eating out or in.
Here are the following categories…
Your cells need water, your kidneys need water, your blood needs water… You are mostly water. Clean water is of utmost importance. This means water that has not been living in plastic, does not contain chlorine, fluoride or other toxins that have circulated in through environment or added by municipal system. This is a long topic for another post… but …. just know my favorite filter system in Aquasana and you need 1/2 your body weigh in ounces to get what your need. Ideally drink your water away from your meals to not dilute digestive juices, but the most important thing is to drink it. We once thought my mom was having a heart attack… turns out she just needed some water. Many strange symptoms are just dehydration.
Being grateful is not just a buzz word. Gratitude practice has been studied to help digestion, to aid in stress reduction and to do much much more. The reason it is on our Grateful Plate is to prepare your body for digestion. Your nervous system has 2 modes…. rest/digest or run/fight. Eating while running about creates digestive dysfunction which can result in bacterial overgrowths, food allergies and digestive distress. Pause, take a deep breath, say a prayer, acknowledge mother earth… whatever makes sense to you. My nephew Noah goes around the table and says what he likes about each person…like “Coo Coo Cas (uncle Cas) is a great worker person.” Food is sometimes cold, but our guts are ready to eat!
Fermenting foods is how our ancestors preserved and stored food. Humans have developed an amazing symbiosis or friendship with microbes. Most microbes are healthy and friendly. Your digestive tract needs a healthy microbial population to regulate immune response, keep the gut healthy, activate nutrients and much more. Eating fermented foods is our best way to inoculate and help keep our own colonies healthy.
4. Bone Broth
There are so many benefits to bone broth, but one of the main reasons we find it on this plate is that it delivers a powerhouse of nutrients that promote a more balanced amino acid profile, calm inflammation, heal the gut lining, add collagen, minerals etc etc etc. We could have an entire blog on the benefits of bone broth. I find that when it is regularly apart of people’s diets depression/anxiety lift, hair and nails are gorgeus, stomachs stop hurting and there is an overall sense of calm. My favorite way to get it in… as a base for my favorite soups (cream of brocoli by living loving paleo).
5. Colorful Plants
So half the plate is loaded with plants…. do you see that? Stop and take a closer look….. HALF THE PLATE IS LOADED WITH PLANTS. Here is why….they fight cancer, they feed your healthy microbes in your gut, they are loaded with fiber, they fight heart disease, they help with detoxification, repair cells and tissues, they help with weight loss and skin health, they do it all! Eat your veggies folks… You should aim for at least 7 servings per day. If veggies hurt your tummy…yes, they do hurt some people’s tummy…. cook them or eat them in your bone broth as a stew.
That part of the plate that looks like carbs… that is actually for pre-biotic fiber. I hate to “beat a dead horse” but if your gut is not healthy …. than your body will not be healthy. The foods in this category: sweet potato, potato, oats, lentils, beans, plantains, yucca are all great sources of prebiotic fiber. They are also great sources of fiber to stabilize blood sugar as long as they are not over consumed. Fibers sweep out toxins, slows absorption of foods to keep you full longer, and keep your gut healthy. You need this category. But not too much. Over consuming carbohydrates with out burning them up can cause insulin resistance and problems with excess glucose. The plate is only a 1/4 full. No going back for seconds!
Once upon a time it was thought that you could eat unlimited lean protein and not gain weight and only get healthier and stronger…. that fat and carbs were the enemy. Not so much anymore. Protein is very important for detoxification, cellular repair, blood sugar stabilization, building muscle and a lot more. That being said … over consumption is now being linked to insulin resistance and maybe cancer. You NEED protein and in my opinion you need a good form of animal protein to be truly healthy. Grassfed, wild and sustainable raised sources are completely different in structure and vitamin content than conventionally raised. But remember…it’s a 1/4 of your plate. Again, if you are an athlete you may be able to get away with a bit more. Us average folks only need a palm sized portion. Dr. Mark Hyman puts it best when he says he uses meat as a condiment.
None of this is listed in order of importance because if it was… fats would make it higher on the list. If you are reading this and are still purchasing “fat free,” “non-fat,” or some kind of fat altered product… STOP! Fat is not the enemy unless it is based in industrial fats like canola, corn, vegetable, hydrogenated fats. Nature’s fats are very good for you… Look for our guide to good fats in the next post. In fact, recent studies suggest that we are at way higher disease risk with out fats and if our cholesterol is too low! Again, another long topic for another time…. but here is why you need adequate fat. It is the precursor to all your sex hormones, it keeps your cells healthy, combats inflammation, is good for your brain, joints and is an amazing source of energy that does not cause crashes.