Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Dishing Up Dietary Advice With A New Plate

Does your plate look like MyPlate? The new Choose MyPlate graphic officially replaced the Food Guide Pyramid on June 2, 2011 when the United States Department of Agriculture announced that the pyramid was out the door. Many of my colleagues and friends agree that the pyramid concept of showing how to eat healthy was pretty confusing for most consumers.

In my opinion, the new plate showing how each of the food groups should be positioned on a real plate is much more user friendly, since we all eat from a plate. Consumers and families, as well as the athlete, can benefit from seeing the balance needed in our daily meals using healthy foods from fruit, vegetables, grains, protein foods and dairy. The plate shows the ratio of the foods that we should aim for, but does not quantify the portions each person needs to meet their calorie needs. Therein lies what may become an issue for many with this oversimplified approach. How do you feel about the new MyPlate visual? Does it help you make better decisions with your food choices?

The main messages to guide you to a healthier plate are as follows:

Balance Calories
• Enjoy your food, but eat less and avoid oversized portions.

Foods to Increase
• Make half your plate fruits and vegetables
• Make at least half your grains whole grains
• Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk

Foods to Reduce
• Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread and frozen meals---and choose the foods with lower numbers
• Drink water instead of sugary drinks

This advice, promoting simple but effective changes, will help direct food choices toward quality, variety and an array of powerful nutrients needed for good health and performance. Compare your plate to MyPlate next time you sit down for a meal! Learn more at

Kim Larson, RD, CD
Sports Nutrition Consultant

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