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June 15, 2011

Move Over, MyPyramid

The Hood Answer Mom, Elizabeth M. Ward, M.S., R.D.

What's on your plate?

You may be wondering what MyPlate means to you and your family.

MyPlate is meant as a visual reminder of the eating advice in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans  and to help you more easily make better food choices.

The MyPlate campaign offers several easy messages to help you eat better.

* Enjoy your food, but eat less, and avoid oversized portions. Most adults should eat less, and some kids may need to reduce their portions too.

Decide on a daily calorie budget, and stick to it for easier weight control. Make your food work for you by choosing nutrient-rich foods most of the time, and serving them to your family, too. 

Nutrient-rich foods, such as fat-free and low-fat milk, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean sources of protein, offer the most nutrition for the least calories. 

* Make half of your plate vegetables and fruit:  Produce provides the nutrients that often go missing in the typical American diet, including potassium and fiber. Plus, it's filling and relatively low in calories.

Eat a variety of brightly colored fruits and vegetables to get an array of beneficial vitamins and minerals, as well as phytonutrients, plant compounds that promote good health. 

Here's a delicious smoothie recipe  that includes fruit and dairy.

* Switch to fat free or lowfat (1%) milk.  Fat free and 1% lowfat Hood Milk  and Simply Smart Milk have the same amount of calcium and other vitamins and minerals as higher-fat milks, but with fewer calories and less saturated fat.  If you love 2% reduced-fat milk or whole milk, you don't need to avoid them, but you should choose other lower-fat foods to compensate for the fat in the milk you drink.

*  Make at least half your grains whole grains. Whole grains have more fiber and other nutrients than highly refined grains, such as white bread.

Aim for at least three servings of whole grains, including whole grain cereal, whole wheat bread, and snacks such as popcorn, every day.

 * Check the sodium in prepared foods, and choose the foods with lower numbers.  Excess sodium in the diet is linked to high blood pressure, so do what you can to purchase, and cook with, lower sodium products. 

As a frame of reference, no adult or child should eat more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day, according to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Fresh and lightly processed foods, such as fruits and vegetables, meat, and low-fat dairy, are far lower in sodium than processed foods and restaurant fare.

* Eliminate sugary drinks. Soda, energy drinks, and sports drinks are a major source of added sugar, and calories, in our diets, and they offer nothing in the way of nutrition with the exception of energy that we often don't need.  Choose water or fat-free or low-fat milk instead.


Elizabeth M. Ward

Elizabeth M. Ward

Elizabeth M. Ward, M.S., R.D., is a writer, nutrition consultant, and mother of three. She is the author of several books, including MyPlate for Moms, How to Feed Yourself & Your Family Better and Expect the Best, Your Guide to Healthy Eating Before, During, & After Pregnancy . Ward is also a contributing writer for Muscle & Fitness Hers and Men's Fitness magazines.

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