These micro changes in your plate that will make the difference

Putting color on the plate not only attracts the eye but also fills up on antioxidants. Getty Images.

In her book, dietitian nutritionist Sophie Janvier delivers her gentle method for eating better. Tricks to modify our meals a tad, without necessarily lightening them or impoverishing them in taste.

Dinner of a soup in the evening because we enjoyed a hearty dish of lasagna at noon is not problematic. Considering this gesture as a punishment can, on the other hand, be harmful. After hearing countless complaints from patients, Sophie Janvier, dietitian nutritionist, decided to wave the white flag. In his work The gentle way to eat better, published on August 17 by Leduc editions (1), the health professional shares the reflexes to balance her menus. Forget the great revolution right away, Sophie Janvier delivers simple and effective food adjustments in a concrete way, to be distilled on your plate every day.

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Play the Van Goghs

How to strive for better eating without wasting time or morale? By betting on curiosity, answers Sophie Janvier. “We must open our food repertoire. Food is not just the sum of its nutrients and eating is not just about swallowing calories”, assures this daughter and sister of chefs.

Among her 33 proposals for “microchanges”, the nutritionist dietitian proposes as a priority to give pride of place to plants, but in an original way. Instead of focusing on the name of the varieties, she suggests playing Van Gogh by composing the plate as one would with a paint palette, by putting at least three colors on it.

“Not only are our eyes drawn, but the bright pigments of fruits and vegetables also reflect the presence of antioxidants, molecules that are precious for protecting our cells from aging,” explains Sophie Janvier. On the contrary, we will avoid monochrome plates, “white-yellow” combinations or the total “brown” look, which indicates too much presence of refined starchy foods (pasta, rice) and meat.

The bright pigments of fruits and vegetables reflect the presence of antioxidants, precious molecules to protect our cells from aging

Sophie Janvier, nutritionist dietitian

To those who are already sighing, the nutritionist dietician has not said her last word. If the carrot bores you, if the smell of broccoli or banana bothers you, you always have legumes, aromatic herbs or spices. “The latter are interesting alternatives to salt to add flavor to dishes. Reducing the quantities of this flavor enhancer will not make you lose weight but will surely prevent us from overeating”, observes Sophie Janvier.

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Yes to pizza but homemade or artisanal

Unsurprisingly, the health professional favors home-made, where we have more control over the quantities but also the usefulness of the ingredients. “When you go shopping, if you see products on the ingredient list that you don’t know the name of or that you don’t have in your cupboards, you probably have an ultra-processed food in front of you, considered by epidemiological studies as a risk factor for weight gain, chronic diseases but also mental health”, indicates the nutritionist dietician.

Sophie Janvier assures us: the idea is not to completely ban junk food and the associated pleasures. “If you are not ready for the total homemade, you can also use frozen, uncooked vegetables to accompany your hamburger or even replace the industrial pizza with that prepared by the restaurant on the corner of the street. Baker, caterer, butcher, pastry chef… The quality of the products and the manufacturing method will always be better than those of industrial products”, she promises.

It takes an average of 21 days to quit a bad habit… And 66 to permanently replace it with a good one.

Sophie Janvier, nutritionist dietitian

Evaluate, Rectify, Celebrate

When you reshuffle the cards of your diet, maintaining your motivation is a path strewn with pitfalls. “Scientific studies have shown that it takes an average of 21 days to quit a bad habit… And 66 to permanently replace it with a good one,” reports Sophie Janvier. According to the nutritionist dietician, by combining intention and attention, it will be easier to install good and healthy automatisms. For example, we will avoid refilling at the table (intention) because, upstream, we have taken care to serve the right amount on the plate (caution).

Last advice and not least: be indulgent. “Too often, at the end of a project, we skip the assessment stage. It is however beneficial to measure the small and big victories, the possible failures, after a month for example, to then readjust our operation”, she recommends. Before concluding: “Stay, whatever happens, your best friend. Do not try to bend your body to an untenable discipline. Make small successive changes and allow yourself the time you need to integrate them slowly but surely.

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(1) The gentle way to eat betterby Sophie Janvier, published by Leduc, 272 pages, 18€.


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