It's never easy to stay motivated when it comes to eating healthily, but when your dinner plate is a constant reminder, it's harder to feign ignorance or forgetfulness.
Ann-Marie Stephens has just created a set of dinnerware, Precise Portions, designed to help people keep their eating in check. Based on USDA's newest MyPlate guidelines, which has replaced the old pyramids, Precise Portions dinnerware is intended to help people remember how to proportion their meals.
The Precise Portions dinnerware is beautiful. A vine-and-leaf motif graces the porcelain bowls and plates, and winds up the side of the slender glasses.
The aesthetic beauty of the dinnerware was a priority for Stephens, as she wants the plates to be integrated into people's lives. She describes other portion control plates on the market as "teaching tools as opposed to life tools," and points out that besides being utilitarian and boring, they often do not take into consideration practical necessities, like being microwave-safe.
But the vine motif is not pure decoration - on the plates, the branches mark out half a plate (for non-starchy vegetables), and two quarters (for grains and lean meat), keeping in line with the USDA plate guidelines. On the bowl and glass, leaves subtly indicate standard measurements - 4 and 8 oz for liquids, and 0.5, 1, 1.5, and 2 cups for food.
Precise Portions makes two plates, which serve different purposes. The 9-inch "focus" plate is a training tool, with each section labeled with the appropriate food group, the number of servings recommended per meal, and examples for foods in each category. The slightly larger 10-inch "lifestyle" plate, however, has only the vine motif as a guideline.
"The focus plate is the training plate, whereas the lifestyle plate is the maintenance plate," says Stephens. "It's for people who don't want it in their face every day. Plus if you're got friends over, you can stay with your eating plan and not have anyone else saying, 'Oh, what is this, are you on a diet?' "
The Precise Portions dinnerware also attempt to fill in a gap frequently found in other portion-control plates. "Most of our competitors don't have bowls or glasses," Stephens points out. "They're ignoring the fact that people can get liquid calories, too." You can also order a plastic plate with cover so you can bring your measured meal into the office.
More information about calories and servings is included on the table mat and in the Quick Start Guide that comes with the dinnerware. Stephens encourages people to create their own daily meal plans using the charts provided.
But the wonderful thing about these plates is that you don't need to get mired in calorie counting and meal planning, if you're too busy or too lazy. All you need to do is follow the guidelines and don't cheat.
Or, as Stephens sums it up: "Stay within the lines, and you're good."
One Precise Portions place setting ($59.97) includes a 9-inch "focus" plate, a 10-inch "lifestyle" plate, a bowl, a glass, and table mats. You can order them here.