I love mental models and I use them wherever possible. They are not always perfect but they are sufficient to help you make better choices.
There are five components to fitness viz. cardio vascular endurance, Muscular strenth, muscular endurance, flexibility and body composition. The formula to achieve the right body composition that supports the other four components of fitness are: drink lots of water, eat right and sleep. Here I wish to discuss the topic of eating right and wish to share an easy to understand and follow mental model. This model is called the Healthy Eating Plate Model developed by nutrition experts at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and editors at Harvard Health Publications. The Healthy Eating Plate provides detailed guidance, in a simple format, to help people make the best eating choices. It can be applied to preparing a healthy and balanced meal plate or packing a lunch box.
Make most of your meal vegetables and fruits – ½ of your plate.
Aim for color and variety, and remember that potatoes don’t count as vegetables on the Healthy Eating Plate because of their negative impact on blood sugar.
Go for whole grains – ¼ of your plate.
Whole and intact grains—whole wheat, barley, wheat berries, quinoa, oats, brown rice, and foods made with them, such as whole wheat pasta—have a milder effect on blood sugar and insulin than white bread, white rice, and other refined grains.
Protein power – ¼ of your plate.
Fish, poultry, beans, and nuts are all healthy, versatile protein sources—they can be mixed into salads, and pair well with vegetables on a plate. Limit red meat, and avoid processed meats such as bacon and sausage.
Healthy plant oils – in moderation.
Choose healthy vegetable oils like olive, canola, soy, corn, sunflower, peanut, and others, and avoid partially hydrogenated oils, which contain unhealthy trans fats. Remember that low-fat does not mean “healthy.”
Drink water, coffee, or tea.
Skip sugary drinks, limit milk and dairy products to one to two servings per day, and limit juice to a small glass per day.
The main message of the Healthy Eating Plate is to focus on diet quality:
The type of carbohydrate in the diet is more important than the amount of carbohydrate in the diet, because some sources of carbohydrate—like vegetables (other than potatoes), fruits, whole grains, and beans—are healthier than others.
The Healthy Eating Plate also advises consumers to avoid sugary beverages, a major source of calories—usually with little nutritional value—in the American diet. The Healthy Eating Plate encourages consumers to use healthy oils, and it does not set a maximum on the percentage of calories people should get each day from healthy sources of fat.
Eating right is a skill and this skill put to work well can give us a healthy body weight while giving us enough fuel for our daily activities