Duke Dining

Balance Your Plate

Balance Your Plate is an educational campaign, sponsored by Duke Student Health and Duke Dining, was developed to address the “how to” of healthy eating at a glance. A plate that regularly reflects choices from all food groups, in moderate portions, is a practical and easy way to stay healthy and manage your weight.

A balanced plate consists of approximately 50-65% carbohydrate (fruits, vegetables and whole grains), some lean protein and healthy fat, as well as some low fat dairy, if you choose.

Student Health Center dietitians work closely with Duke Dining to ensure that healthy menu items are a mainstream offering throughout the Marketplace and Penn Pavilion.  



Why is a Balanced Plate so Important?

All food groups contain foods that make unique contributions to our wellness and overall health.



Grains: Whole grains are an excellent source of the B vitamins, fiber and carbohydrates for energy. Try and choose whole grain products and vary your choices each day for the most benefit.


  • Look for whole wheat bread, bagels, or tortillas at deli and bread stations.

  • Experiment with different grains when you see them—bulgur, tabouli, quinoa and more.

  • Opt for whole wheat pasta or brown rice when available.



Protein: meats, poultry and fish are good sources of protein. But you can also get protein from milk, cheese, beans, soy and tofu. If you do not eat meat, you should try to consume plant or other protein at each meal (nuts or nut butter, tofu or other soy protein, dairy or eggs).


Fats: Yes! Your body needs fats to function properly. Some fats are better than others. Fish and nuts are good sources of essential fats that enable your body to work properly.  

Other sources of healthy fats can be found in olives, avocados, and heart healthy oils such as olive and canola oil (both of which are used in food preparation at Penn Pavilion and Marketplace—additionally chefs are trained to use less overall fat in cooking).



Fruits and Vegetables- About 1/2 of your plate should be filled with fruits and vegetables which provide vitamins, antioxidants, fiber and carbohydrates for energy.

Try and choose fruits and vegetables of different colors to ensure you receive the benefits of a variety of different vitamins and phytochemicals (plant pigments).

If you have any questions or concerns about your eating please contact a Student Health Dietitian at 919-681-9355.