We all want to eat healthier, but let’s face it, we only enjoy food that tastes good to us. With information overload on how to eat, do you feel overwhelmed, questioning if you met your protein needs, or found a new recipe but unsure if it will taste good? How do we fill up our empty stomachs with foods we enjoy while building health at the same time?
Enter the Mandala Food Plate – a colorful, meditative, yet empowering approach to checking off your macronutrients, creating a well-balanced meal that also appeals to your taste buds. Let’s breakdown the gestational importance of creating your individual Mandala Food Plate and how it directly affects your nutritional journey.
Why Are Circles So Powerful?
A mandala literally means circle, and the ancient practice teaches us the beauty in the life of color, balance, and symmetry. Mandalas are all around us; they appear in all aspects of life; snowflakes, flowers, the sun – above all the circles that embrace us with friends, family, and communities like LADP Digital. That’s why I want you to evoke this powerful symbol of a mandala onto your bowl or plate. The Mandala Food Plate is rooted in nutritional science but connects us to the beauty of food in its enjoyment, the pleasure of preparation, and inspiring our taste buds.
This is not about food rules; in fact, I want you to give yourself a break from any restrictions or rules, no counting calories or labeling food off-limits. The Mandala Food Plate is a meditative process, allowing the color of food and the circle to guide you.
What Are The Five Foundations In Nutritional Therapy?
As an FNTP, we are trained to organize plates into macronutrient ratios: carbohydrates, protein, and fat, plus hydration. Hello Palate introduces a ratio of herbs and spices to inspire and bring joy to your taste buds. In decoding your palate preferences for breakfast, lunch and dinner, create a balanced Mandala food Plate with a 5-part ratio: Carbohydrate, protein, fats, palate pleasers, plus fluids.
How Do You Create An Everyday Mandala Plate?
- 50 – 70% Starchy & Non-Starchy Vegetables
Veggies deliver vitamins, nutrients, enzymes, phytonutrients and hydrate you. We’ve heard it repeatedly “eat your veggies” because they lessen inflammation, increase the natural detoxification process, benefit your gut microbiome, and increase your energy & overall mood.
Vegetables can be classified into two main types based on their starch content. Examples of starchy vegetables include potato, corn, peas, and lentils. Non-starchy vegetables include broccoli, artichokes, cauliflower, and mushrooms. Everyone can enjoy these legumes in various ways: raw, cooked, fermented, or sprouted plant foods.
- 20 – 30% Quality Proteins
Protein consists of amino acids that build blocks for your body, build strong muscles, and support your immune system. About half the dietary protein that you consume each day goes into making enzymes, which aids in digesting food and making new cells and body chemicals.
Eating high-protein foods has many benefits, including but not limited to speeding recovery after exercise and/or injury, reducing muscle loss, building lean muscle mass, maintaining a healthy weight, and curbing hunger. Quality proteins are grass-fed and finished meats, organic poultry, wild-caught fish, free-range or organic eggs, and pasteurized dairy if tolerated.
- 15- 20 % Healthy Fats & Oils
Fat allows you to absorb fat-soluble vitamins and balances hormones. It has a role in Vitamin D production, supports your brain, lubricates your digestive system, and most of all, it’s an energy source that makes our food taste great and keeps us satiated.
Fat-rich food can sound complicated and confusing; saturated, poly, mono, and omega are just labeled to describe their molecular bonds – generally speaking, if it comes from nature, it’s probably healthy—the fattier the food, the more important that it comes from a quality source. When you think of healthy fats & oils, think avocado, coconut, nuts and nut butter, seeds, olives – the blocks of orange cheese or potato chips are highly processed fats made in commercial factories – so steer clear of those. Sometimes your protein is fat–rich. Foods like sardines and herring, chicken with skin, and cuts of red meat combine both nutrients.
Include Palate Pleasers
Herbs and Spices are the palate pleasers that add texture and an abundance of flavor with an additional nutrient boost. Don’t just garnish your food with herbs; add them into your meal as major players. A handful of parsley will help your daily dose of vitamin K. Getting an adequate amount of vitamin K in your diet may help protect against bone fractures, as it helps make the protein for bones and blood clotting.
Invest in your pantry. Always have spices like cumin, coriander, turmeric, ginger, garlic, and various sea salts on hand. Your tastebuds will thank you.
Don’t Forget To Hydrate.
Water aids in digestion, flushes toxins out, allows our cells to thrive, and provides a cushion for our bones and joints. Our bodies are 55 to 66% water, so it should come as no surprise that the average fluid intake is 3.2 liters/day. I suggest you drink most of your fluids around your meals and keep your body well hydrated with broth, water, or tea.
This everyday mandala food plate will serve you well in guiding you to simple, creative, and nutritious meals – but what about your needs after an intensive workout or dance practice?
The Post-Workout Mandala Plate
This variation adjusts the five ratios to serve the body’s metabolic response to exercise. Your body is extra receptive to the nutrition you give it. In other words, after exercise, the increased blood flow to the skeletal muscle means that more nutrients can be bioavailable like those that stimulate muscle repair, growth, and muscle strength. Post-workout nutrition is the ideal time to take advantage of it; in doing so, we prevent muscle soreness, increase the ability to build muscle, and prevent injuries.
In the post-workout Mandala Food Plate, the primary focus is on carbohydrates. To help replace muscle glycogen, it’s an ideal time to add starchy carbs and fruit into your meal. Starchy vegetables include squash, lentils, chickpeas, beans, parsnips, and sweet potato, to name a few. If you tolerate grains and gluten, you can also add rice, pasta, and bread into the mix.
The secondary focus is on proteins. After intense workouts, we damage tissues. We use fuel, amino acids in protein-rich foods, help in the construction of new ones, aka protein synthesis – because protein breakdown increases after intensive workouts, so we need a lot more protein post-exercise to build our tissues up.
Fat is limited in post-workout because it slows the digestion and the assimilation of protein and carbohydrates. That does not mean it doesn’t exist at all; it means getting the most dietary fat during the everyday mandala plate and most dietary carb during the post-workout mandala plate.
Is There A Plant-Based Food Mandala Plate?
As the world continues to grapple with commercial food systems, many people adapt to more plant-based options. Let’s take a look at how to approach it with the Hello palate Mandala.
- Veggies will still comprise about 50% to 70% with a mix of starchy and non-starchy varieties.
- Proteins will make up about 25%, including beans, legumes, and tempeh.
- Fats will make up 25% sourced from good quality healthy oils, olives, nuts, and seeds.
The Mandala Food Plate represents your creative power to build health in the long view, a practice to receive your meal as a sacred time to value. It reminds us to pause, give thanks, and honor the presence of the abundance of nourishment in front of us. In doing so, the autonomic nervous system, which unconsciously regulates bodily functions such as heart rate and digestion, activates the parasympathetic nervous system – enhancing our ability to rest, digest, and optimize the nutrients in our meal.
Mealtime can be a period of creativity, a mindset to reduce stress around food, and connect this spiritual practice to our everyday eating habits. Lean into it. Some tips around mealtime include:
- Eat slowly – feel the signal when you’re full.
- Source your food closest to nature – think farm to table.
- Look to the Dirty Dozen & Clean Fifteen for guidance on buying organic foods.
- Identify hunger cues over emotional cues of boredom or reward eating.
- Choose a plate that fits your lifestyle. Your mandala should represent you.
Namaste and enjoy!