There’s no denying that weight loss is the most common goal of my clients. However, most clients come in worrying about what foods they should be excluding/not eating to lose weight. I’ve heard everything from carbs, fat, sugar, alcohol, legumes, beans, dairy, red meat, all meat – you name it.
The first thing I encourage my clients is to do is RELAX about food. If eating and cooking is feeling stressful or is no longer enjoyable then there’s no way anyone will stick to whatever it is they are trying to follow. The second thing I work on is explaining that losing weight does not have to automatically be associated with foods you need to stop eating. If you really do embrace the whole moderation concept, then there should be a place for all food in your diet.
So once we delve into the details of what I recommend for their particular goals, lifestyle, and body – there is always one tip that applies to EVERYONE! Whether you follow gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, LCHF, paleo, FODMAPS, raw or whatever it might be, every single person can and should stick to this one tip…
Half of your plate should be vegetables and salad.
I’m talking a mix of greens, colours, raw, cooked, seasonal and organic where possible, vegetables and salad.
It’s simple. Every time you go to have a meal, put your bowl or plate in front of you, and fill half of it with vegetables/salad. Of course I do recommend filling the rest of it with protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats, but to start with, at least just focus on the vegetables and salad!
This is such an easy way to get more nutrients into your diet and no matter what meal you are having, it can always be applied. If it’s a meal that is all mixed in together – think about what it would look like on your plate if you separated it out. Below are some examples of how some household favourites can be substituted to fit this concept:
Spaghetti Bolognese: serve ½ cup pasta with 1/3 cup meat sauce on one half of your plate, and then fill the other half of your plate with a mixed salad OR try zucchini noodles to mix in with the pasta and add a heap of grated veggies to your meat sauce.
Chicken Curry: Serve ½ cup brown rice and ½ cup chicken curry onto your plate, then fill the rest with a salad OR pack your curry full of vegetables and serve with cauliflower rice.
Roast Lamb: Serve a palm size of lamb onto your plate, ½ cup mashed sweet potato and fill the rest with roast zucchini, cauliflower, broccoli, carrot, Brussels sprouts etc.
What about breakfast you might ask? Making half of your smoothie vegetables (spinach, kale, lettuce, cucumber, zucchini, beetroot, carrot, broccoli) is a great and often tasteless way to get more veggies in. You can also do a cook up of greens, mushrooms, and tomatoes with eggs or salmon or turn it into an omelette with a side salad. Breakfast salads are also very popular now with quinoa, spinach, kale, asparagus, feta, blueberries and some nuts and seeds on top.
As a nutritionist, I think the best-portioned plate is one with a palm size of protein, ½ cup complex carbohydrates, 1-2 tablespoons of healthy fats AND half a plate of vegetables and salad. However, I always say to start with small changes – and half a plate of plants should be the first!
It might be tough at first, but you will soon come to find that you feel lighter yet satisfied after your meals and that there are tasty ways to enjoy vegetables and salads. Plus with up to 6-8 cups of vegetables and salad a day there won’t be room for those nutrient lacking, eating out of habit foods anymore!
A good way to start incorporating this into your diet is through my 21 Day Detox Program. The meals are delicious, the results have been simply incredible and you’ll easily get your 6-8 cups in per day without even thinking about it because all you do is follow the eating plan!
Article by Steph Wearne
Steph Wearne is a Registered Nutritionist and holistic foodie whose recipes are a revelation for anyone wanting to feed their body good food whilst keeping it easy and seriously delicious! She owns a training and nutrition studio in Melbourne, has a blog full of amazing recipes, creates menus for popular cafes, and has developed life-changing programs and recipe collections to bring balance and happiness back to our food and bodies. She also loves to downward dog, dance to 90’s music, and eat chocolate in her spare time…dark and homemade of course!