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So you decided to eat healthier to lose a few pounds. You start watching how much you eat, managing your portions, and perhaps cutting down on carbs and fat. You fight your cravings as much as you can, giving in every now and then.

You might lose a couple pounds this way, but suddenly you get stuck. No more weight loss. All this hard work for nothing, right? You have been eating less, so why are you not losing weight?

There can be several factors holding you back, but one of the most common mistakes we do when we try to lose weight, is to cut down calories and meal portions, disregarding what we’re cutting away.

Even more important than “portion control” is “proportion control”. That is, how much vegetables, protein and healthy carbs you are eating in relation to the total size of the meal.

In my experience, it’s not eating small meals what gets you healthier, but eating balanced meals. That way you make sure you’re not missing out on any nutrient that your body needs to stay lean and healthy.

The Healthy Eating Plate, created by the Harvard School of Public Health, has been my personal guideline for many years now. It is a very simple, graphic way to follow on how each meal should be served:

1. Vegetables – 1/2 of your plate

The more colors the better. Use leafy greens for the most part, such as spinach, baby lettuce or kale for a boost of vitamin K and other nutrients that reduce inflammation in your body and improve digestion, among other benefits.

2. Protein – 1/4 of your plate

Try healthy sources such as fish, chicken or beef. Beans and nuts can be a good alternative, but they don’t have as much protein as meats. Avoid cold cuts, which are high in sodium and nitrates, such as bacon and sausage.

3. Whole Grains – 1/4 of your plate

This is what most of us skip when we try to eat “healthy”. Cutting grains from your meal because you want to “cut carbs” will only make you crave more carbs later on. Add whole wheat, barley, quinoa, brown rice or oats to control your blood sugar level and avoid cravings.

4. Healthy Oils and Fat

“Low-fat” does not mean “healthy”. Healthy oils and fat are absolutely necessary for proper nutrient absorption, blood sugar control and inflammation reduction. Just make sure you’re eating the right oil: olive, canola and coconut are great options. Adding avocado or nuts to your plate is also a great alternative, due to their high quality fat content.

In a nutshell, make sure you’re not missing out on any vegetables, protein, grains and healthy oils. Remember, what is holding you back it’s not what you eat, but what you don’t eat.

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