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MyPlate helps remind people how to make smart, healthy eating choices

MyPlate, which is replacing MyPyramid, is the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) new graphic for healthy eating.

The new icon, released in the summer of 2011, is designed to remind Americans to eat healthy. It uses a plate setting to illustrate what a healthy meal could look like. The plate contains a section for grains, vegetables, fruits and protein rich foods, such as meats, beans, soy food, etc. The cup represents dairy products.

There are tips associated with each section within MyPlate to help consumers easily incorporate healthy options when choosing what to eat. These short, catchy phrases help consumers remember how to put it all together:
• Fruits: focus on fruits
• Vegetables: vary your veggies
• Grains: make at least half your grains whole
• Dairy: get your calcium rich foods
• Protein: go lean with protein

MyPlate resources incorporate selected messages from the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans to help consumers focus on key behaviors. These messages include:

  • Balance Calories
  • Enjoy your food, but eat less
  • Avoid oversized portions

Foods to Increase
• Make half your plate fruits and vegetables
• Switch to fat-free or low-fat (one percent) milk
• Make at least half your grains whole grains

Foods to Reduce
• Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread and frozen meals – choose foods with lower numbers
• Drink water instead of sugary drinks

The MyPlate website describes each food group by giving examples of foods that are included in each group, as well as those that are excluded. This information makes it easier to identify healthy choices when making decisions that affect your diet.

MyPlate also focuses on including essential nutrients from oils, defining what empty calories are (foods with added calories but little nutrition), and stressing the importance of incorporating physical activity.

MyPlate is a great educational tool to keep you on track with positive nutrition choices and a healthy lifestyle. For more information on the new USDA icon, please visit www.choosemyplate.gov.

About Julia Salomón MS, RD, CD

Julia is the corporate dietitian at Affinity Health System and also a nutrition educator. She works at various sites throughout the organization working with Affinity’s employee wellness program. She earned her Master’s degree in nutrition science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1996 and became a dietitian shortly thereafter. Julia has worked on several nutrition projects abroad as well as domestically. Before joining Affinity Health System in June of 2011, she worked as a college dietitian and later in the school nutrition field. She has earned certificates of training in adult and childhood weight management. Julia has a special interest in nutrition, public health and wellness.

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