Eat Balanced Meals

Eat balanced meals — follow a plate model

What is a balanced meal?

Image of protein, fruit, and vegetable on a plateBreakfast, lunch, and dinner are meals. A balanced meal has the right proportions of healthy foods to give your body the energy and nutrients it needs — to keep you feeling good! When building balanced meals, imagine a plate divided into sections for different food groups. Think “1-2-3-+.”

  1. Fill about half your plate with non-starchy vegetables or fruits. These are green/go foods.
  2. Add protein.
  3. Add beans, a starchy vegetable, or a whole grain. Beans are green/go foods. Starchy vegetables and whole grains are yellow/be careful foods.

    +: Drizzle, sprinkle, or spread a dollop of healthy fat.

Image of what's in a balanced breakfast
Breakfast example
1) mixed berries
2) egg
3) whole-wheat toast
+) sliced avocado 
Image of what's in a balanced lunch
Lunch example
1) carrots, celery, and an apple
2) cheddar cheese
3) whole-grain crackers
+) ranch dressing (for dipping carrots and celery)
Image of what's in a balanced dinner
Dinner example
1) salad greens and fresh fruit
2) grilled chicken breast
3) sweet potato
+) Italian dressing

Some foods do not fit nicely on a plate — like stir fries, yogurt parfaits, smoothies, soups, and casseroles. That’s OK; still think “1-2-3-+” to create a balanced meal.

Recipes in the Boston Children’s fit kit show how to do this.

Create your own balanced breakfast, lunch, and dinner using our follow-a-plate model worksheet. Download the worksheet

Sometimes practice is all you need to become expert at something. Track your food and drinks over a few days. Have you made progress? Download our nutrition tracker