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What should your plate look like?
Azmina Govindji RD
14 June 2009
  • Eating well is as much about the different balance of foods on your plate as it is about the individual foods. Dishes like curry, dhal, roti and rice can be healthy, but if the portion of dhal is tiny and the meat curry is smothering the rice you’ve probably got the balance wrong.

  • Eating well is as much about the different balance of foods on your plate as it is about the individual foods. Dishes like curry, dhal, roti and rice can be healthy, but if the portion of dhal is tiny and the meat curry is smothering the rice you've probably got the balance wrong.

    Unbalanced plate:
    Balanced plate:
    Half the plate is filled with chicken curry, the other half with rice and chapattis. Photo: Yuki Sugura (Healthy Indian Cooking for Diabetes)
    A quarter of the plate is filled with chicken curry, a quarter with vegetable curry, a quarter rice and chapatti, and a salad in the last quarter. Photo: Yuki Sugura (Healthy Indian Cooking for Diabetes)

    Try this:

    • Reduce your portion sizes, especially if you are watching your weight. Simply eating less will cut down on calories and this can help you to manage your weight. Try using a smaller plate – an easy way to cut your portion size!
    • Do you really need a second helping? It's often customary to have a few dishes of sumptuous foods in the centre of the table and to help yourself to more. Eat slowly, focus on the flavours and textures, and pause for a moment before you automatically reach for another portion.
    • Don't overdo the carbs! Keep an eye on the amount of carbohydrates you eat. This means having smaller amounts of bread, rice, chapatti and potatoes. If you're having a combination of curries, chapatti and rice, then ask yourself whether you can just have one starchy food (for example, only rice), rather than having a potato curry, chapatti, and rice.
    • Change what your plate looks like. If you take the following advice, you are likely to lose weight and increase your fibre, vitamin and mineral intake, all in one go: Fill half your plate with a vegetable dish, and a salad or vegetable chutney (like kuchumber). Then fill a quarter of your plate with a starchy food like chapatti, rice or a potato dish. The last quarter is for your protein, which could be meat, cheese, beans, fish, eggs or dhal. Look at the plate examples – what does your plate look like?
    • Cut the calories. By simply cutting a few calories at every meal, you will be making a real calorie saving by the end of the week. Changing your cooking methods by using less fat (oil, butter, ghee, and fatty meats) is one of the most effective ways to reduce calories in cooked dishes. If you can cut your daily intake by 500 kcalories (1 kcalorie equals 1 000 calories), you could lose one pound (half a kilo) of fat in a week.