By Linda Drake – Nutrionist – State Director of EFNEP
Every five years since 1980, the U.S. government develops Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA). The Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (HHS) appoint an Advisory Committee to review scientific and medical knowledge and recommend revisions. Once the Dietary Guidelines report is released, the USDA and HHS are responsible for developing a guidance system for consumers to help put the DGA into practice. Balance Your Food Choices With MyPlate
Every five years since 1980, the U.S. government develops Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA). The Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (HHS) appoint an Advisory Committee to review scientific and medical knowledge and recommend revisions.
Once the Dietary Guidelines report is released, the USDA and HHS are responsible for developing a guidance system for consumers to help put the DGA into practice. For many years, that guidance was in the form of a pyramid, but in June, 2011, MyPlate was unveiled. According to First Lady Michelle Obama, MyPlate is a “quick, simple reminder for all of us to be more mindful of the foods that we’re eating.”
You can find advice and tips for your particular needs at the MyPlate website, including how much to eat from the various food groups. Every meal doesn’t need all of the components, but the MyPlate icon can help remind you to choose foods throughout the day that will help you eat for better health.
The new MyPlate healthy choices include:
- more veggies and fruits
- whole grains
- lean meat (smaller portions) poultry, fish, beans (a good protein source too)
- low fat dairy
- fewer foods high in salt, added sugar and solid fats
Even if your meal doesn’t fit on the plate as pictured, try to include more fruits and vegetables than meat and grains. For example, if you have pizza, load it up with veggies like green peppers, mushrooms, onions, fresh tomatoes. Choose lower fat cheese, and go easy on the pepperoni or sausage! For a sandwich meal, choose whole wheat bread and include lots of dark leafy lettuce. Go easy on the mayonnaise, have a side of carrot sticks and add an apple for dessert. Drink low fat milk (and water) instead of soda or juice drinks.
How much you put on that plate depends on how many calories you need. Smaller portion sizes = fewer calories. Fruits and vegetables are also low calorie. Try to add one fruit and vegetable to every meal, add a salad loaded with vegetables to your meals once a day, or choose fruits and veggies for snacks. Go easy on sugary drinks, doughnuts, pastries and desserts! If you have them at all, have them only once in a while, and eat less.
Here are some MyPlate ideas for meals and snacks:
- Whole grain toast, peanut butter, fresh peach or berries in season, 1% milk
- Whole grain unsweetened cereal, banana, 1% milk, ½ grapefruit or other fruit in season
- Small bran muffin, low fat ricotta cheese, 100% orange juice
- Tuna sandwich on whole grain bread with dark leafy lettuce and tomato slices, raw broccoli and carrot sticks, 1% milk, fresh pear
- Chef’s salad with lettuce, spinach, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers…whatever veggies you like, with hard-cooked egg, chick peas and Swiss cheese tossed with a light Italian dressing; whole grain roll or crackers; vanilla yogurt
- Small fast food hamburger, small salad, 1% milk – and bring a piece of fruit for dessert
- Roasted chicken or fish, steamed green beans, stir-fry yellow squash with fresh basil, oatmeal cookie
- Veggie pizza with low fat mozzarella, tossed salad, pineapple chunks
- Homemade bean chili with vegetables, cheese and veggie quesadilla, lemon yogurt with fresh blueberries
- Whole grain crackers with low fat cheese and raw vegetables
- Fresh fruit in season, fresh veggies and dip
- Low fat yogurt (try plain yogurt and add canned or fresh fruit)
- Small handful of nuts (unsalted or lightly salted)
- Healthy cookie, small slice of quick bread like banana or zucchini bread
- Half a peanut butter sandwich on whole grain bread with low fat milk to drink
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day.