The MyPlate Method
The MyPlate Method: An Easy Way to Eat Healthfully
March is National Nutrition Awareness Month and a great time for us to review the basics to putting together a nutritious meal.
The MyPlate Method is based on the USDA’s 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans to help consumers make better food choices. The old visual of the food pyramid was replaced with a familiar mealtime visual to illustrate healthful choices.
While MyPlate is a good guide, remember that it is intended to show the range of choices over the course of a day. For example, you might not fill your full with veggies for breakfast but you might replace that with an extra serve of fruit.
If you have concerns about how to customize a diet that is right for you based on preferences, nutritional needs or medical conditions, the best thing to do is see a registered dietitian or nutritionist who can help design a meal plan that is right for you.
Here are ten smart tips from Choosemyplate.gov:
Balance calories: Find out how many calories YOU need for a day as a first step in managing your weight. Go to ChooseMyPlate.gov to find your calorie level. Being physically active also helps you balance calories
Enjoy your food, but eat less: Take the time to fully enjoy your food as you eat it. Eating too fast or when your attention is elsewhere may lead to eating too many calories. Pay attention to hunger and fullness cues before, during, and after meals. Use them to recognize when to eat and when you’ve had enough.
Avoid oversized portions: Use a smaller plate, bowl, and glass. Portion out foods before you eat. When eating out, choose a smaller size option, share a dish, or take home part of your meal.
Foods to eat more often: Eat more vegetables, fruits, whole-grains, and fat-free or 1% milk and dairy products. These foods have the nutrients you need for health—including potassium, calcium, vitamin D, and fiber. Make them the basis for meals and snacks.
Make half your plate fruits and vegetables: Choose red, orange, and dark-green vegetables like tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and broccoli, along with other vegetables for your meals. Add fruit to meals as part of main or side dishes or as dessert.
Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk: They have the same amount of calcium and other essential nutrients as whole milk, but fewer calories and less saturated fat.
Make half your grains whole grains: To eat more whole grains, substitute a whole-grain product for a refined product—such as eating whole-wheat bread instead of white bread or brown rice instead of white rice.
Foods to eat less often: Cut back on foods high in solid fats, added sugars, and salt. They include cakes, cookies, ice cream, candies, sweetened drinks, pizza, and fatty meats like ribs, sausages, bacon, and hot dogs. Use these foods as occasional treats, not everyday foods.
Compare sodium in foods: Use the Nutrition Facts label to choose lower sodium versions of foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals. Select canned foods labeled “low sodium,” ”reduced sodium,” or “no salt added.”
Drink water instead of sugary drinks: Cut calories by drinking water or unsweetened beverages. Soda, energy drinks, and sports drinks are a major source of added sugar, and calories, in American diets.
So what would healthy meals look like? Here are a few examples from CalorieKing to help inspire you:
- One small container yogurt with extra fruit added
- Whole-grain toast, add a slice of cheese for extra protein
- Fruit or fruit juice
- A sandwich of whole-grain bread, tomatoes and lettuce, a slice of cheese and lean meat such as chicken or ham (note the sodium count)
- A salad with a hard boiled egg, with tomatoes, carrots and some feta cheese
- A serving of lean meat or fish
- A side of vegetables or salad
- A whole-grain roll with a teaspoon of butter or margarine
- Fresh fruit and yogurt for dessert
If you are looking for recipe inspiration, head to our site for our fantastic recipe makeovers.
For more information on the government’s healthy eating initiatives, visit Choosemyplate.gov for resources and tips on nutrition and exercise.
Do you follow the MyPlate plan as a guideline or do you have another healthy eating formula that works for you? Let us know your secrets!