Being in charge of guiding your teen’s relationship with food can be a hard task. However, the plate-by-plate approach keeps this simple, allowing you as parents to more easily nourish your teen through an eating disorder.

There is no counting or measuring involved which helps your teen to be less rigid with food which is the main goal using this method. Other methods are often not as effective and can be even more triggering to eating disorders.

This approach is an aspect of family based treatment (FBT). As the caregiver, you are responsible for feeding your teen and will be asked to take over all aspects of meal planning and feeding with minimal input from your teen. This task may seem overwhelming, but it is made simple in the Plate-by-Plate Approach. This method is designed for individuals with all eating disorder diagnoses and can be adjusted to meet your teen’s needs.

Meals need a balanced ratio of carbohydrates, fats, and protein and should aim to include fruits and vegetables. It is recommended to use a 10 inch plate as a guideline on an appropriate amount of food. Try not to stress about the nutritional quality as much as getting portions more stable. Figure out what is realistic for your lifestyle. You don’t have to over think it! We want your teen to be eating normally.

Our goal is to normalize eating again while navigating the energy dense needs of malnutrition. It is important to expose your teens to a variety of foods when using the plate-by-plate method. Eating a variety of foods can help restore confidence in your teen and rebuild a healthy relationship with food. Try to make sure all major food groups are present at each meal.

A meal should include 3+ food groups and a snack should include 2+ food groups:

Figure A: 50% Grains/Starches

“Standard / Intuitive”

Most Teens
Weight Restoration
Catch up growth
Anyone eating intuitively

Figure B: 33% Grains/Starches

“33% Plate”

Lower energy needs
Younger Kids
Someone who is purging
For anyone not able to do other plate right away
Anyone eating intuitively