Guide to Balanced Meals-Wildcat Style!
Photo: Healthy UNH
Many students today will claim that they know what My-Plate, or “The Wildcat Plate” as we like to call it here at UNH, is but do you know how to use it? Wildcat Plate is a passive guide to healthy and most importantly BALANCED eating. What I like about Wildcat Plate is you don’t necessarily need to understand portion sizes, or give up your favorite treats, but learn how make your plate a nutritionally balanced meal.
The Wildcat Plate is broken up to 4 categories, fruit, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains; also with dairy shown as a glass of milk on the USDA’s My-Plate website. Each of the categories takes up certain proportions of the plate, like a pie chart. It is recommended that half your plate be fruits and vegetables, while proteins take up a little less then 25%. The rest of the plate should be grains.
- Fruits: Men and women should be getting about 2 cups of fruit per day. Fruit can be fresh, canned, frozen, or come from 100% juice.
- Vegetables: there are 5 categories of vegetables dark greens, starchy, red/orange, beans and peas, and others. By getting varying colors you will get a diverse array of nutrients. Aim for 2.5- 3 cups per day.
- Proteins: it is recommended to get protein from different sources such as poultry, meat, beans, eggs, nuts, and soy products. Aim for lean sources and needs vary from 5.5 ounces to 6.5 ounces.
- Grains: one of the largest categories on Wildcat Plate and because they are so well liked this category is often over eaten, try to get about 6-8 ounces. Aim to make at least half your grains whole; wheat bread and brown rice are good sources!
- Dairy: it is recommended that you consume mostly low-fat or fat free dairy products. 3 cups per day is recommended. If don’t like milk (like me) try yogurt or soymilk.
If you can’t find a Wildcat Plate to use in the dining hall, or if you live in an off campus apartment, you can still use the concept by understanding basic proportions.
For example if you have: 1 slice of whole-wheat peperoni pizza that would largely count as your grains, a little bit of dairy, and protein. So you should pair it will a spinach salad, with walnuts, cranberries, feta cheese, and vinegar/oil. For dessert try an apple with peanut butter and a glass of skim milk. Now all of your food groups are covered with this delicious and filling meal!
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