No Meal Plan, No Problem

Restrictive diets work for as long as you can follow them.  Most people will lose weight on 800 calories/day, but how many can keep it off?  If it was that easy to stay trim by swearing off an entire food group or subscribing to three months of boxed meals, weight management would not be such an issue.

That’s why I love the plate.  Originally developed for diabetes education, the Plate Method is an ideal way for everyone to plan their meals.  A template of 1/4 carbohydrate, 1/4 protein, and 1/2 non-starchy vegetable works at home and on the go.  Leaner choices will speed up weight loss goals, but not every plate has to nutritionally perfect.  When you develop the habit of eating a half plate (or bowl) of veggies at each meal, it becomes less it important what is on the other half.

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Corelle 8.5″ Single Divided Plate ($7.50)

Click here for Ashley’s shopping list with quick tips, product recommendations, and a breakdown of what goes where on your plate.


Carbohydrates come from plant foods and are our number one source of energy.

Carbohydrates break down into glucose during digestion. Glucose is your body’s main energy source and the only source of energy for your brain and red blood cells.

Fuel your body with regular meals and snacks to keep blood sugar levels stable and maintain energy that lasts throughout the day.

The following foods contain carbohydrate:

  • Grains
  • Starchy vegetables (corn, potatoes, and peas)
  • Fruit
  • Milk
  • Beans / legumes


Protein builds structure and is also involved numerous basic, vital functions of the body.

When protein is eaten with carbohydrate, it reduces the glycemic index of that particular meal or snack.  Glycemic index is a measure of how quickly a food is digested.  Foods with a low glycemic index provide lasting energy.  Foods with a high glycemic index (high carb, low protein), will digest more quickly and can cause you to become hungry again more quickly.

So protein is important because it builds structure and sustains the energy from carbohydrates when they are eaten together.

The following foods have protein:

  • Meat, poultry, seafood
  • Dairy (eggs, cheese, milk, yogurt)
  • Legumes and beans
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Soy foods, tofu, and veggie “meats”


If you’ve ever had me as a counselor, you know I sound like a broken record.

Pair carbohydrates and protein.  At all meals and snacks.

And match it with non-starchy vegetables at lunch and dinner….  It’s really that simple.


Non-starchy vegetables include any vegetable that is not corn, peas, or potatoes.

Be colorblind about it.  Sweet potatoes and blue potatoes are potatoes.  Black-eyed peas are peas.  Corn, peas, and potatoes are bread for nutritional purposes.  They are not off limits, but eating too much can cause weight gain.

Carrots do not have too much sugar.  Iceberg lettuce is still a vegetable, regardless of how inferior its nutritional profile when compared to kale.  Nobody ever became obese by overeating carrots or iceberg lettuce.

Don’t get too worried about what type of non-starchy vegetable you eat, just start eating them.  Once you start seeing positive results, you might suddenly find yourself interested in trying new options.