While many of us recognize that we are overweight and need to cut back on calories, we don’t necessarily know how this goal is best accomplished, especially given the conflicting advice from experts.
Fad diets—whether they are unrealistically limiting in food choices or nutritionally sound—seem to hit the market with regularity. The latest diet book rises to the top of the heap, only to be replaced by another fad diet a few months later. Foods such as eggs are considered bad for our health one week; the next week, they are considered an ideal source of protein.
Amid all the confusion, what’s a person to do? Ideally, we would each keep track of our caloric intake, independent of our food choices. If we needed to lose weight, we would make the appropriate adjustments. But after working with hundreds of people trying to lose weight, I am certain that some individuals (like my husband) will never keep a food journal. Like many, he will never check a calorie guide to find out how many calories are in the cheeseburger and french fries he ate for lunch. But not counting calories doesn’t mean my husband has to give up losing weight.
If you, like my husband, resist calorie counting, you can still achieve your weight-loss goal by using the half-plate rule.
Here’s the rule in a nutshell: Before eating, load the right side of your plate with salad, fruit or nonstarchy vegetables (such as broccoli or zucchini). Divide the other side between protein (such as lean meat or beans) and a starch (such as potatoes, rice or corn).
If you follow the half-plate rule, you’ll reduce your caloric intake without measuring each calorie you consume (assuming, of course, that you don’t eat a second and third helping). And this guide is handy even for calorie counters in situations where calories are difficult to measure, such as at a restaurant or in someone’s home.
The half-plate rule is an idea conceived of and promoted by Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab. Researchers are working to discover why, what, when and how much people eat. We appreciate this useful insight because we can use all the help we can get.
"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted." Albert Einstein