Week 1: The 2/3 – 1/3 Plate Principle

The 2/3 – 1/3 plate principle

Think of your plate as a “peace sign.” Fill 2/3rds with a combination of the following:

  • non-starchy vegetables – includes salads, carrots, broccoli, greens
  • starchy vegetables – potato, sweet potato, corn, peas
  • fruit whole fruit, fruit salad, dried fruit
  • whole grains – whole-wheat bread, oatmeal, whole-grain pasta, brown rice, quinoa
  • beans – such as black, garbanzo, pinto, kidney; split peas, lentils
  • nuts and seeds – such as walnuts, almonds, pecans, sesame and pumpkin seeds

The remaining 1/3rd or less of your plate can include animal foods:

  • chicken, fish or seafood
  • lean red meats like sirloin steak or pork loin (3 oz. = deck of cards size)
  • eggs
  • dairy – reduced-fat milk, yogurt or cheese

Conquer this challenge: Think plant foods first

Fill up on non-starchy vegetables

  • start your meal with a green salad tossed lightly with vinaigrette dressing
  • serve a broth based vegetable soup as first course
  • try steamed or stir-fried veggies like bell peppers or summer squash

Serve 1-2 portions of starchy vegetables and grains per meal

  • 1/2-1 cup whole grains like brown rice or quinoa
  • 1-2 slices (ounces) whole-grain bread
  • 1 small-medium sweet potato

Add more color

  • toss some chopped apple, berries or grapes in your green salad
  • choose a kid friendly black bean and corn salad for a side

Do this morning stretch to power your day!

Learn to safely stretch your body from head to toe, at home or work. Every week we’ll feature a new video from Denise Austin, AARP Wellness Ambassador.

Turn your walk into a workout!

Strategies to use this week

  • Start slow. Apply the 2/3 – 1/3 plate principle at one meal the first few days. Then strive for at least two meals daily by the end of the week.
  • Cook from one of our menu ideas for this week!
  • Take pictures! Take photos of your plates and share on Facebook. See how they become more and more like the New American Plate – 2/3rds plant foods, 1/3rd or less animal foods.
  • Dining out? Check out the 2/3  – 1/3 Plate Principle Away from Home

Plan your delicious week of New American Plate Meals!

Check out the NAP Challenge Cooking Resources page! This week get tips and tools to learn about menu planning.

Dig Deeper

Eating more plant foods is the most important and life-changing behavior you’ll do as part of the New American Plate Challenge to reduce your cancer risk and lose weight!

AICR/WCRF’s new expert report, Diet, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Cancer: A Global Perspective includes updated Recommendations for Cancer Prevention. This challenge is based on the third recommendation:

Learn how to put this recommendation into action with:

Here’s more information about phytochemicals or phytonutrients, that keep you in good health and protect against many types of cancer. In addition, whole grain foods and foods that contain fiber can lower risk for colorectal cancer – the third leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States.


Visit “A Guide to Phytochemicals” to learn more

Naturally low in calories and high in water, plant foods are filling. As time goes on, you’ll be craving and preferring more delicious vegetables, fruits, grains, beans, nuts and seeds. Your meals will be nutritionally packed and far more satisfying.