Delicious and fortifying, this scientifically sound eating philosophy lets you enjoy incredible meals, while emphasizing foods that promote health to reduce your risk for cancer and other chronic diseases.
Too often, the traditional American plate is not a healthy meal. Many Americans rely on fast food or processed food. A typical home-cooked dinner is often planned around a large portion of either red meat or poultry, with some potatoes or other starchy vegetable on the side, and sometimes a small serving of a green or non-starchy vegetable. Meals like these often contain too many calories, and not enough health-protecting vitamins and minerals.
At the center of the New American Plate is a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and beans. These foods are rich in fiber, vitamins, and other natural substances called phytochemicals that help keep you in good health, and protect against cancer. They are also naturally low in calories.
Ready to eat better and move more, but need a little support?
AICR’s new Healthy10 Challenge (formerly New American Plate Challenge) is a free 10-week online program to help you improve your diet, nutrition, physical activity and weight for lower cancer risk and better overall health. This interactive challenge includes two major components—nutrition and physical activity—that will help you eat smarter and move more. AICR will launch the new challenge in 2021, so please check back for updates.
Portion and Proportion
The keys to the New American Plate are simple: portion and proportion.
Rather than overload your plate with big servings and centering eating around meat, the New American Plate helps you plan meals that are filling, well-balanced, and packed with nutritional value. These meals will leave you pleasantly satisfied, and will help you maintain your weight, and take care of your overall health and well-being.
Transition to the New American Plate
We know that making extensive changes to your diet can be tough. It’s common to get used to your dietary habits, and transforming your approach to nutrition can be an effort.
You don’t have to change everything overnight though. You can move to the New American Plate gradually. Little by little, you’ll find new ways of eating, and if you stick with it, eventually you’ll likely find that following the New American Plate’s model becomes second nature.
Take it one step at a time. When adjusting your meals to include more plant-based foods, even small changes can provide real health benefits. Every new vegetable, fruit, or whole grain and lentil/bean contributes disease-fighting power. And all the calories you save may make a real difference to your waistline.
The Old American Plate
The typical American meal is heavy on red meat, fish and poultry. Take a look at this plate. Fully half is loaded with a huge (8–12 oz.) steak. The remainder is filled with a hearty helping of buttery mashed potatoes and peas. Although this meal is a home-style favorite, it is high in calories and low in phytochemicals and fiber. A few changes, however, will bring it closer to the New American Plate.
A Transitional Plate
This meal features a more moderate (4–6 oz.) serving of meat. A large helping of green beans prepared with your favorite herbs and the addition of a filling whole grain (seasoned brown rice) which increases the proportion of nutritious, plant-based foods. This plate is on the right track, but doesn’t yet take advantage of all the good-tasting foods the New American Plate has to offer.
The New American Plate
The modest 3-ounce serving of meat (fish, poultry, or red meat) pictured here fits AICR guidelines for cancer prevention. This plate also features a wider variety of foods, resulting in a diverse assortment of cancer-fighting nutrients. Two kinds of vegetables increase the proportion of plant-based foods, and a healthy serving of a tasty whole grain (brown rice, barley, kasha, bulgur, millet, and quinoa) completes the meal.
In a one-pot meal – like this stir-fry – you can reduce the animal foods and increase the plant-based ingredients without even noticing. This plate is bursting with colorful vegetables, hearty whole grains, cancer-fighting vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. Fish, poultry, or occasionally red meat is used as a complement, adding a bit of flavor and extra substance to the meal.