Plate Mapping: The Secret to a Perfectly Proportioned Thanksgiving Meal

The season of overindulgence is upon us. While we're all for eating whatever your body (and your soul) desires, we're also all about balance. Indulge in something you love and wash it down with something else green and leafy. You know the drill. And remember, guilt and dogma do not have to hold a part in your indulgences. Go forth and eat as you please. We're just going to provide the necessary information you may want to make sure your chosen foods don't make your body feel bad.

Plus, with a little bit of math and an education on plate proportions, you can enjoy your Thanksgiving meal and escape bloat. It's way easier than we expected, and we think you'll be pleasantly surprised. Keep reading to see how it’s done.


The Plate

The ideal plate should be divided up into three sections: vegetables, protein, and starches. If you'd like, fill one half of your plate with vegetables, one fourth of your plate with protein, and the last fourth with starches. 

how to measure food portions: vegetables


Green veggies, like Brussels sprouts, green beans, and spinach, are number one. Salads and other healthy vegetables like cauliflower also can fill this portion, just become aware of how they’re prepared. If the salad is dripping in dressing and covered in bacon and blue cheese crumbles, start with your steamed, baked, and grilled vegetable options first. Butter, oil, and thick sauces can turn an otherwise healthy veggie into a heavier option.

how to measure food portions: protein


It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without turkey. Dedicate one quarter of your plate to a serving of white meat. That should be about three ounces or a helping the size of your fist. If you can, keep gravy to a minimum and avoid the skin. 

how to measure food portions: starches


The final fourth of your plate can be filled with starches. That means stuffing, mashed potatoes, and rolls are all fair game, but the most health-conscious choices are yams and corn. 

how to measure food portions: dessert


No one should be deprived of a bite of pie, but make sure you actually want it. Fruit-filled pies like cherry and apple are fine, but if you'd like to keep that balance, try to eat around as much of the crust as possible. Good old-fashioned pumpkin pie is the leanest choice. Whichever one you pick, enjoy yourself.

how to measure food portions: drinks


Although not technically on your plate, your beverage choices can easily derail your meal. Drink plenty of water—at least two or three large glasses—before the big meal, and save your alcoholic sips until dinner is served. That way you can fill up on water before you start eating, and your choices won’t be influenced by a bit of tipsiness. Try to have just one glass, but if you want a refill, wait to do so until you’ve finished another full glass of water.

This post was published at an earlier date and has since been updated by Hallie Gould.

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