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Balanced Plate For Weight Maintenance


It’s a concern echoed by moms-to-be everywhere: “What if I gain too much weight while I’m pregnant?”

Especially if you’ve struggled with weight issues in the past, the idea of putting on more than you have to while you’re expecting can be hard to stomach; of course, we also want to ensure that both mom and baby have adequate nutrition and calories.

While many programs exist to help take off baby weight post-natally, the process can be a little easier when weight gain during pregnancy is kept in check.

This plate diagram above is a guideline for the types and proportions of foods to focus on. It’s a foundation for balancing the most essential elements of our diet, particularly the ones that will provide lasting energy and building blocks for a new little human. When we focus on nutrient-dense variety each day, we allow the body to feel grounded and stable. Whole, available nutrients mean the body relaxes, allocates its resources correctly and burns off what it doesn’t need.

Creating a balanced plate for healthy weight gain and maintenance involves a few steps:

Look at the proportion of foods on your plate. How much protein is there in relation to the complex carbohydrates from veggies? How much starch have we included? Where is the fat coming from? We want to aim for 50% of the plate covered with vegetables, preferably greens, cooked or served with a healthy fat. Great veggie options include kale, chard, spinach, sweet potatoes, peppers, and beets; look for fats from plant sources like coconut, olive, or flax. Divide the remaining half of your plate with organic, antibiotic-free animal proteins or beans, alongside an equal portion of whole grains. High-protein grains like brown rice, quinoa and barley are excellent options to help keep you fully fueled.

Consider color. Are at least three vibrantcolors represented on your plate? Yellow and white (unless they’re from peppers, zucchini or nuts) don’t count for as many nutrition points as reds, greens, oranges, blues, or purples. Do a color inventory for each plate to ensure you’re covering your bases.

Have fat. They don’t usually take up a lot of room on the plate, but pack a powerful nutritional punch and a substantial amount of energy. While fat is the accessory to veggies on this plate, some of your white space can be filled with more of it, including oils, nuts, seeds or fruits like avocado. Not only do fats encourage satiety and keep us full for longer, they also provide the necessary components for building a brand new brain and nervous system.

Check in on plate size. This is not a platter. One of my favorite ways to control for portion - while still permitting a feeling of indulgence and fullness - is simply to use a smaller plate. Pile up those veggies and let them overflow.

You’ll notice that fruit and dairy make cameos off the main plate. Especially for weight maintenance, it’s helpful consider these accessories to the main event, as sugar and saturated animal fat can promote excess weight gain. These tend to be popular craving foods, so include them as you as your body dictates, just return to the main plate concept whenever you can.

Of course, not every meal is going to be plated in this way. And of course, some days you will just not want to eat green vegetables. That’s okay. Your aim should be to build a foundation on top of that which you can easily and guiltlessly add other foods. Dessert, anyone?

Amy Height is a holistic nutritionist, avid home cook and triathlete with a passion for getting messy in the kitchen. When she’s not scouring the farmers market for obscure veggies or incessantly photographing new dishes for her blog, Amy can be found hopping from yoga studio to yoga studio around NYC, or running to show tunes in Central Park. She will probably also remind you at every opportunity that she’s proudly Canadian. Amy is the founder of From the Ground Up Wellness, a holistic nutrition practice aimed at helping women rebuild a nourishing relationship with food, from pre-pregnancy to pregnancy and beyond. For recipes and more ideas on living your most vibrant lady-life, please visit

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