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NAP Challenge #1: The 2/3rd – 1/3rd Rule to Plate By

I will fill my plate with two-thirds (2/3rds) of a combination of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans and nuts and no more than one-third (1/3rd) of lean animal protein such as poultry, seafood, low-fat cheese, low-fat yogurt, or lean red meat. Of my 21 meals per week, 5 or more meals will meet the 2/3rd–1/3rd rule.

Leaf detail

The traditional American plate


A transitional plate

Leaf detail

The New American Plate


Of all the exciting New American Plate Challenges planned for you, this first challenge to eat more plant foods is the most important and life changing to reduce your cancer risk as you lose weight!

Tackling this, the hardest challenge first, at the beginning of the 12-week challenge period, gives you plenty of time to eat and enjoy a greater proportion of plant foods and ultimately triumph at the end of the challenge period by eating more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, and nuts.

The good news is that at the center of the New American Plate is a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans. These plant foods are rich in substances that help keep you in good health and protect against many types of cancer. Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death in US. So consuming more plant foods with fiber will lower your cancer risk.

Plant foods are naturally low in calories and high in water and fiber, which fill you up, shrink your waistline, and help you lose weight! As time goes on, soon you’ll be craving more and more plant foods and your meals will be nutritionally packed and far more satisfying with more vegetables, whole grains, fruits, beans, and nuts.

alt plate

An alternate New American Plate


  • Cover the top two-thirds or more of your plate (think top part of a "peace sign") with a combination of non-starchy vegetables (e.g. salads, chopped vegetables), starchy vegetables (e.g. potato, sweet potato, corn, peas), fruit (e.g. whole fruit, fruit salad, dried fruit), whole grain bread, oatmeal, high fiber cereal, whole grain pasta, brown rice, beans (e.g. black, pinto, kidney, garbanzo beans), and nuts (e.g. walnuts, pecans, almonds).
  • Use plates 10-inches in diameter or smaller (e.g. a large salad plate)
  • Fill up on unlimited non-starchy vegetables (salads, chopped vegetables); toss salads very lightly with olive oil or canola oil based dressing
  • Eat two vegetables at dinner such as cooked carrots AND mixed greens salad.
  • Get out and use your measuring cups! To master this challenge, you must master knowing the portion or serving sizes for vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans and nuts. Go to the Online Serving Size Finder.
  • Eat at least 5 servings of vegetables and fruit daily. It’s easy to do: banana at breakfast counts as 1 serving if a small banana, counts as 2 servings if a large banana, 2-cup size mixed green salad with nuts and dried cranberries at lunch counts as 2-3 servings, afternoon snack of a medium size apple counts as 1 serving, 1/2 cup carrots and 1 cup of salad at dinner counts as 2 servings. So all in all, this easily adds up to 6-7 servings of vegetables and fruit!
  • Picture this -
    • 2/3rds of your breakfast plate may look like this: 1 cup high fiber cereal, 1/2 cup 100% orange juice, 1 small banana;
    • Your lunch may look like this: turkey sandwich on two slices of whole wheat bread with lettuce and tomato slices, 2 cups mixed greens side salad with nuts and dried cranberries and 1/2 cup grapes; and
    • Your dinner plate (plant portion) may look like this: 1 cup or more of vegetable soup, 1/2–1 cup cooked carrots, 1/2–1 cup of brown rice or whole wheat pasta or a medium baked potato, and 1 medium apple. That’s about 10 - 13 servings of vegetables and fruit for the day! And, 2/3rds of your meals were plant food based!
  • What does goes on the remaining 1/3rd of the New American Plate? Lean animal protein food choices such as baked chicken, sautéed fish or shellfish, grilled lean sirloin steak, or roasted pork loin. Limiting these portions to about 3 ounces (the size of a computer mouse, deck of cards or checkbook) at lunch and dinner meals should fit quite nicely on the remaining 1/3rd of your plate. More about the 1/3rd or less part of the New American Plate in an upcoming Challenge. For now, eat 2/3rds of your plate or meals with plant foods!
  • Ready, set, GO & CLICK! Take photos of your plates and see how they become more and more like the New American Plate 2/3rds plant food, 1/3rd animal food.

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