So where do you begin?
By Carleton Rivers, MS, RDN, LD
While contemplating what topic I was going to write about for this month’s newsletter, I asked myself, “What one thing stands out in my mind as the key to my personal healthy eating approach?” All of my answers came back to my plate design for each meal. Now I’m not referring to the artistic pattern on my ceramic plate; I’m talking about how I “decorate” my plate with food. If I can successfully design my meal to incorporate nutrient-dense foods (greatest nutritional value with the smallest amount of calories) from a variety of food groups, then I not only feel good about my choices, but I find I am less hungry between meals.
So where do you begin? The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) released the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans that is a composition of guidelines designed to help consumers make better food choices. One component of this initiative is a tool called MyPlate. This tool takes the place of the ever-recognizable Food Guide Pyramid. The MyPlate diagram is an easy-to-read meal guide that encourages the incorporation of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy and lean proteins into each meal. As a registered dietitian, I was quite excited to begin using the MyPlate Planner not only for clients but also for myself. I noticed an immediate difference in the way I approached each meal.
There are a few main messages to help consumers meet their dietary guidelines:
- Balancing Calories
- Enjoy your food but eat in moderation
- Avoid oversized portions
- Foods to Increase
- Make half your plate fruits and vegetables
- Make at least half of your grains whole grains
- Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk
- Foods to Reduce
- Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals (Choose the foods with the lower amounts of sodium)
- Drink water instead of sugary drinks