MyPlate Makes Balanced Nutrition Easier
A healthy diet builds strong bodies and minds. While your eating and fitness habits will change during different times of your life – for example, when you’ re breastfeeding, weaning your child, or losing weight – the basics will remain the same for you and all your family members.
MyPlate, is a visual guide from the U.S. Department of Agriculture that replaces the old food guide pyramid, can help everyone plan a balanced diet.
The old method focused on the types of foods you should eat over the entire day, or in some cases over a week. MyPlate sets up a way to eat healthier at every meal — whether you’re eating off a plate, a bowl or a napkin — based on a few easy ideas:
Start with a small plate, as a reminder to eat less and avoid oversized portions.
Half of your plate should be vegetables and fruits (it’s best to have a little more vegetables than fruit).
The other half of your plate should be grains and lean protein (it’s best to have a little more grains than protein). As often as you can, choose grains that provide a good source of fiber, like whole grains.
Lastly, with most meals include low-fat or non-fat dairy foods or foods that are rich in calcium.
Why are the different food groups important?
Eating a variety of foods helps you get the balanced nutrition you need for better health. There are also certain nutrients — fiber, calcium, potassium and vitamin D — that are called “nutrients of concern” because many Americans don’t get enough of them. MyPlate reminds us to eat a variety of foods that provide these nutrients.
Fruits provide potassium, vitamin C, fiber, folate and phytonutrients.
Grains provide fiber, B vitamins, and folate.
Dairy foods provide calcium, vitamin D and potassium.
Protein foods provide iron, B vitamins, magnesium and zinc.
Vegetables provide potassium, vitamins A and C, fiber, folate and phytonutrients.
Don’t feel that you have to eat from every food group at every meal.
Snacks are a great way to fill in any nutrition gaps from your meals. For example:
A breakfast of cereal, fruit, and milk is a great start to your day. When you need a snack to fuel up between breakfast and lunch, choose something that will provide the vegetables and protein you didn’t eat for breakfast, like vegetable sticks dipped in hummus or celery dipped in peanut butter.
If you don’t eat any grains for lunch because you had a salad with beans or chicken, snack on some high-fiber crackers and fruit in the afternoon.
Many people don’t eat fruit as part of their dinner, so eat the fruit as a refreshing, wholesome dessert or evening snack.
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