What’s on Your Plate?
The Food Pyramid that most of us learned about in school is now ancient history. That old guideline on food groups and servings has been replaced by MyPlate. The MyPlate concept was designed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to promote healthy eating habits that will last a lifetime. We all have a lot on our plates these days, but focusing on healthy meals for the whole family will help to make sure that everyone stays happy and healthy! Some important points about MyPlate:
- Focus on consuming a variety of foods, try to eat appropriate portion sizes, and aim for nutritionally dense foods. You should try to eat all the different colors of the rainbow every day if possible. Remember that this does not mean eating foods that are artificially colored. It is fun for kids to participate in picking colorful foods with you in the produce section of the grocery store. For portion sizes, some helpful tips to estimate various serving sizes are listed in the picture below. Remember that children do not need as big a portion as adults to meet their daily needs. “Nutritionally dense” foods means are foods that provide a high amount of nutrition through vitamins and minerals while providing a small to moderate amount of calories. Also shown below is an example of the MyPlate model. For a more detailed view please view the full MyPlate poster.
- Choose foods and beverages that contain less saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars. Check out our Smart Bites blog on Understanding Food Labels.
- Start by making small changes that eventually build healthier eating habits. You don’t have to make a lot of dramatic changes at once! This often leads to new dietary habits not sticking. Make small changes to improve the health of your overall diet and in time, you and your family will be making better, healthier decisions without even thinking about it!
- Support healthy eating for everyone! Make healthy choices for the whole family, not just the kids.
- Don’t forget to include physical activity daily. Aim for 60 minutes of moderate activity every day for your kids and 30 minutes 5 days out of the week for adults. Physical activity counts as anything that gets your heart rate increased and blood pumping. This could be taking a walk around the neighborhood with your kids, going for a bike ride, or playing a game of tag in the front yard.
- The MyPlate goal is for half of your family’s plate to be fruits or vegetables, and at least half of your grains should be whole grains.
Below is a recipe idea that incorporates all of the MyPlate ideals into it. It is very easy to make, and kids should be as involved as possible!