The rule is called the 50/25/25 Rule.
We have all heard it from our mother and grandmother. They told us to finish our vegetables. Little did I know they were 100% correct. Well, at least partially. I am sure my grandmother did not fully understand nutrition when guilting me into finishing my plate. In fact, I am sure all the butter and cheese she added to her cooking was not healthy, but she did want me to eat more vegetables and fruits, and that was 100% dead on correct.
Eating fruits and vegetables is critical for us to remain healthy, but for some reason, we continue to come up short despite having knowledge of how important it is. Knowing the recommended portion size is only half the battle because it is different for each vegetable and fruit, it can be overwhelming to both newcomers and experienced dieters alike. Because of this confusion, I would recommend the following guideline.
The 50/25/25 Rule or Portion Guideline:
- Fill at least half of your plate with fruits and vegetables before you reach for any other foods. More vegetables should fill this half of the plate rather than fruits.
- Fill one-half of what is left or about one-quarter of the plate with meat or other protein source. I suggest choosing a lean meat such as fish or poultry. Another option is to include beans, eggs, or a soy based product.
- Lastly, fill the final quarter portion of your plate with a higher fiber starch or carbohydrate. I recommend a high fiber bread or whole grain, avoiding white rice and corn. Brown rice is fine. Beans count as both a protein and carbohydrate.
- Dairy should be added to your diet daily and moderated. Dairy can be dense in calories if you do not use skim, no-fat, or low-fat products. Greek yogurts can serve as a dairy and add much-needed protein to your diet.
- Desserts, sweets, and oils should be avoided or used with extreme moderation. I recommend plant or seed based fats that are low in saturated fat. Peanut or olive oil are awesome choices.
- Water is a must to keep you full and hydrated. More is not always better, but 6 to 8 8-ounce glasses should be enough unless you are extremely active or the weather is hot.
The Bottom Line: The 50/25/25 is a robust method that is not only simple but also convenient. This guideline is helpful when you are on the go or if you are visiting a friend. Try to use a scale or portion control plates if possible, but if they are unavailable, this method will work to maintain portion sizes in a pinch. If this is done correctly, you can avoid calorie counting altogether. The key point is you have to be diligent and control the amount you place on your plate and in your mouth. This guide will work with buffets and parties too as long as you don’t go back for seconds.