Healthy Eating Advice
ByKimberly Beauchamp, ND
First Lady Michelle Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently unveiled the federal government’s newest strategy to help Americans eat better: replacing the confusing and flawed food pyramids of the past with “MyPlate,” a much simpler visual model that helps people keep healthful diet tips in mind.
The plate makes sense
Unlike previous icons, the multicolored MyPlate breaks good nutrition down to these basics:
eat mostly vegetables and fruits,
some lean protein,
and lesser amounts of low-fat dairy, which is shown to the side of the plate.
There’s no place on the new icon for desserts or other snack foods. Instead, these count mostly towards the daily “empty calories” allotment, which includes foods with added sugars and solid fats like butter or shortening.
With empathy to busy parents, and recognizing that they have competing demands that may keep them from feeding their families as well as they would like to, the new icon provides a simple checkpoint. “…We do have time to take a look at our kids’ plates,” says the First Lady. “As long as they’re half full of fruits and vegetables, and paired with lean proteins, whole grains and low-fat dairy, we’re golden. That’s how easy it is.”
The MyPlate icon will soon hit schools, supermarkets, and restaurants, so we’ll more often see the reminder to fill half of your plate with produce. Instead of worrying about measuring exact portion sizes, you can now eyeball it to see if you’re falling within the new guidelines. This should make it infinitely easier to plan healthy meals and choose what to order when eating out.
The take home
The MyPlate icon is just one part of the plan to help get Americans eating better and tackle the obesity epidemic. A host of interactive information and helpful links are available at ChooseMyPlate.gov. “What we have learned over the years is that consumers are bombarded by so many nutrition messages that it makes it difficult to focus on changes that are necessary to improve their diet,” said Vilsack. “This new campaign will help unify the public and private sectors to coordinate efforts and highlight one desired change for consumers at a time.” Here are some of the key messages that the will be addressed by the MyPlate campaign:
Enjoy your food, but eat less.
Avoid oversized portions.
Make half your plate fruits and vegetables
Switch from whole milk to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.
Make at least half your grains whole grains.
Compare sodium (salt) in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals, and choose foods with lower numbers.
Drink water instead of sugary drinks.
Kimberly Beauchamp, ND, received her doctoral degree from Bastyr University, the nation’s premier academic institution for science-based natural medicine. She co-founded South County Naturopaths in Wakefield, RI, where she practiced whole family care with an emphasis on nutritional counseling, herbal medicine, detoxification, and food allergy identification and treatment. Her blog, Eat Happy, helps take the drama out of healthy eating with real food recipes and nutrition news that you can use. Dr. Beauchamp is a regular contributor to Healthnotes Newswire.
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