What’s On Your Plate, Belmont Shore and Naples?

This week, Patch’s fitness columnist Andrea Metzker looks at new government food guide My Plate.

First Lady Michelle Obama (along with the U.S. Department of Agriculture) announced the new food guide which will replace the long-standing food guide pyramid. The new food guide is a plate, called . . . myplate. It simplifies the concept of portions between grains, veggies, fruits and proteins as well as dairy.

According to US Department of Agriculture, the new program is focused on making it simple for a parent to look at a child’s plate and see if the portions are in line with a healthy, weight-maintaining diet. Half the plate is fruits and vegetables, a quarter of the plate is grains and the other is for protein. Dairy is on the side of the plate. So instead of looking at a pyramid, you could you plan your meals by looking at a picture of a plate divided into 4 compartments (icons): fruits, vegetables, grains and proteins. 

When you go to the website: http://www.choosemyplate.gov/, you can actually click on each of the icons. There is helpful information including: what’s in each group, how much of the type of food is needed (you can further click for portion by age group), vegetarian dishes and tips for making wise choices – to name a few.

They have also included selected messages based on the 2010 Dietary Guidelines as follows:

o Balancing Calories: Enjoy your food, but eat less. Avoid oversized portions.
o Foods to Increase: Make half your plate fruits and vegetables. Make at least half your grains whole grains and switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.
o 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.

When I tried this with my family for one day, I found the visual was very helpful and when it comes to my family (as I assume most others) we are not close to the suggested 50% fruits and vegetables throughout the day. There are also plates that you can buy where the visual is right there on the plate as well as dividers (see photos) so you put the food into the separated compartments. Brilliant!

I think these plates would really have been helpful when our children were younger. It could be fun to take a plate like that and have the kids help put the food on their plate or have them put meals together using the plate. I showed the icon to my 7 year old daughter and she did not find the fact that she was only supposed to eat a half a cup of cooked pasta amusing at all. I told her Michelle Obama said so- still not amused.

But, I definitely like the idea of this being a part of the school curriculum (assuming all health education is not cut from schools) as it is so easy for children to understand (as well as the rest of us).

Of course, eating right is never easy but the visual idea is clever and I am definitely motivated to buy a lot of summer fruits and vegetables and give it my best shot.  Anyone else had one pizza too many lately?


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