How-to: Build a Satisfying Plate

If there is one thing I get asked more than anything, other than "How do I get my kids to eat... [insert desired food here]?" (don't worry, more on that, soon!), it's "Ok, if I'm not following and I'm choosing what I want to eat but I still want to eat healthy, Then WHAT do I eat??" First and foremost, mama friend, congratulations for getting OFF the diet rollercoaster. We know that diets don't work long-term and I applaud you for ditching diets, once and for all and working on making peace with food so you can find YOUR beautiful balance. Once you've made peace with foods and are beginning to tune into what you really WANT to eat (use this month's audio exercise to help guide you with choosing what you want to eat) we can start to also become conscious of what foods are going to satisfy not just your tastebuds, but your body, too. Meaning-- you're less likely to get #hangry and eat all the things because you're choosing what you really want to eat, and filling your belly with blood sugar balancing, nutrient-dense foods. Gone are the days of Snackwells fat-free cookies and 100 calorie packs. Your body responds to REAL food- and when you feed your body what it wants, and food it can actually process (without giving your liver a run for it's money-- save that for your glass of wine, k?), you will feel WORLDS more calm and collected as you move about your life so you can make decisions that best serve you and your body.

I want to emphasize tuning into your body comes FIRST. Knowing how to ask what your body *really* wants and honoring that, without judgment, is a necessary step to satisfaction. You will never be satisfied JUST by enjoying a plate of food filled with the components I mention below. You will still be hankering for that 'phantom food' I mentioned in this month's video if you're desiring something and denying it. Remember: there are no good and bad foods. There are foods that serve you, and foods that don't-- and this might change meal to meal, day to day.

Building a Satisfying Plate

So let's talk building a satisfying plate. I went into more detail in this month's audio, so tune in there if you'd rather listen. If you're a visual gal, I've got you. There are three main components that contribute to a meal's satisfaction factor:

  1. Protein

  2. Fiber

  3. Fat

And, if you listened to the audios about simplifying nutrition, I identified each of the three macronutrients- carbs, protein and fats, and why we need ALL of them for a healthy balanced, energized supermama life. I also talked about the importance of choosing real food sources most of the time because our bodies better recognize real foods and will be more satisfied when they get a variety of nutrients. In fact, it has been shown that meals that contain multiple components, flavors and textures are MORE satisfying than those that only contain one or two.

Think about the difference between eating two slices of plain toast for breakfast vs. a piece of toast with peanut butter. Which feels more satisfying? Even though there’s more of one of the things- the bread, we are MORE satisfied when there are more components to a meal, and it will likely hold you longer, too.

So let’s talk about the Supermama Power Plate and it's components.

On the lefthand side, you’ve got a big pile of VEGGIES. These contain FIBER and phytonutrients.

On the righthand side, you’ll see about a quarter of the plate is protein-- this should be at ALL meals and snacks to some extent. Protein is THE most satiating nutrient.

You’ll also see about a quarter of the plate is dense carbohydrates. These can come from starches, whole grains or fruit. Your body needs carbs to function. How much it needs depends on your activity level- the more active you are overall, the more carbs you will need overall as carbs are quick fuel for the body. The less active, the less you’ll need overall. You can experiment with how you feel when you eat more or less by how energized you feel following a meal.

Your body also needs fat. For some, just cooking with quality sources of fat is enough. For most, extra fat is needed. We need a variety of different types of fat, so it’s important to mix these up. It could be avocado, nuts, seeds like hemp seeds sprinkled on time, olive oil on salad or butter on your sweet potato. Fat is important for flavor and mouthfeel as well as slowing the digestion process. You might also want to experiment with how much and what kinds of fat feels good in your body, as we all digest fat differently.

Viewed differently, think about the satisfaction components of the meal (with or without meat):

What about mixed meals?

The same goes for mixed meals. Not every plate needs to be perfectly divided. And remember- some plates are going to look different than others. Sometimes you’ll have less protein and more fat, more carbs and less fat. This is a general guideline for beginning to determine what type of meals feel good to you, and you can create a mental template for what to put on your plate- anywhere you are- to create physical satisfaction in addition to the sensory satisfaction you are working on developing. BOTH of these are important for having a calm, peaceful relationship with food and allowing yourself to discover more nutrient dense foods that feel and taste really good, too.

Remember this is a PROCESS-- there are plenty of instances where you might not hit the nail on the head, and that’s ok. Continue to approach this journey with curiosity, rather than judgment.

Remember satisfaction is the HUB of intuitive eating-- things like tuning into hunger and fullness and making peace with food, all revolve around choosing foods that are truly satisfying and help you become more calm and make choices that truly serve YOU and only you.

© 2019 by Kristin Dovbniak for The Supermama Society

Disclaimer: The information contained on this website is for information and encouragement only and is not to be construed as a replacement for medical advice or treatment.