Eating to prevent disease is the object of the “New American Plate” program by the American Institute of Cancer Research (AICR). It’s a healthy diet for everyone, and you don’t have to be concerned about cancer to take advantage of its benefits. At the center of the “New American Plate” is a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and beans. Meat is a side dish or condiment, rather than the main focus. When planning a meal they recommend that plant-based foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, such as brown rice, kasha, millet or quinoa, and beans should cover at least 2/3 of your plate, and be standard portion sizes. Plant-based foods are naturally lower in calories, and provide a larger, more satisfying meal than the typical American diet, so that makes it easy. Plant-based foods like vegetables, fruits and whole grains provide vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals (natural healthful substances found only in plants) that may interfere with cancer cell growth and reproduction and protect the body’s cells from cancer-causing agents.
These same constituents are beneficial for preventing other ailments like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease as well. The New American Plate also teaches about portion size. In today’s culture, portions sizes are skewed. Restaurants trying to give the impression of value offer large plates laden with enough food to feed several people. Moderately sized bagels and muffins of a few years ago have been replaced with creations three or four times larger. At the same time, portions sizes have been expanding in the American home. In the last 20 years, the average American has gone from 1,854 calories a day to 2,002 calories, a difference that can pack on an extra 15 pounds a year. A correct serving size for a vegetable is 1/2 cup, for meat it is 3oz cooked (4oz raw), and for pasta, or rice it is 1/2 cup. Fill your New American Plate with two servings of vegetables, one serving of whole grain, and one serving of meat or beans and you’ll be moving in the right direction!
For more information on this healthy, easy diet go to: aicr.org on the web for a wealth of information, including recipes and information on portion sizes. Or, call their toll free hotline for a registered dietitian, Monday through Friday 9-5 at 1-800-843-8114.