Last week USDA introduced MyPlate, the new icon to remind Americans of the importance of making healthy food choices. It’s a very simple graphic with the familiar image of a plate with blocks of color of different sizes representing food groups and a circle above the plate representing dairy. It is a visual reminder to make half of our plate fruits and vegetables and include whole grains, lean protein and low-fat dairy to make up a well-balanced meal. It is based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010.
The MyPlate icon is an awareness tool to prompt consumers to learn more about choosing healthy foods. ChooseMyPlate.gov
is the place to go to find detailed nutrition information. The site contains information on each of the food groups, tips for following the recommendations from the Dietary Guidelines, interactive tools, and information for specific audiences. More tools and resources will be added in the coming months.
Although the image used to promote good nutrition has changed from MyPyramid to MyPlate, the nutrition messages are familiar, not radically new or different. In the Dietary Guidelines 2010 there is more emphasis on balancing calories and reducing portion size for weight management. They also stress increasing intakes of foods that provide key nutrients and reducing foods with SoFAS (solid fats and added sugars) and lots of salt. Here are 10 tips for making healthy food choices based on the Dietary Guidelines to get you started:
--Balance calories. Find out how many calories you need and balance food intake with physical activity to maintain a healthy weight.
--Enjoy your food, but eat less. Learn to recognize your body’s hunger and fullness cues and use them to know when to eat and when to stop eating.
--Avoid oversized portions.
--Foods to eat more often. Eat more vegetables, fruits, whole grains and fat-free or low-fat dairy which provide key nutrients like calcium, potassium, vitamin D and fiber.
--Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
--Switch to fat-free or low-fat milk. You will get the calcium and other nutrients you need with fewer calories and less saturated fat.
--Make half your grains whole grain.
--Foods to eat less often. Cut back on foods like cookies, candies, sweetened drinks, fatty meats, and salty snacks that are high in solid fats, added sugar and fat.
--Compare sodium in foods. Use the Nutrition Facts labels on foods to choose lower sodium food options.
--Drink water instead of sugary drinks. Soda, energy drinks and sports drinks are major sources of sugar and calories in American diets.