Understanding “MyPlate”

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“MyPlate” is the newest model from the USDA for proper nutrition, replacing the food pyramid in 2011. Many parents may have seen the image but may not be fully familiar with it’s message. This is a new, simple, eating guide. Myplate is a great visual for everyday eating.

Some will find this message easier to remember than the food guide pyramid’s message, even though both had the same purpose of helping people put the Dietary Guidelines into action.

It’s easy to compare your toddler’s (and even your own) plate of food to the new icon. This visual image helps parents to see what percentage of a toddlers plate should be from each group.

When looking at the image, it’s easy to see that half of the food on the plate should come from fruits and vegetables. On the produce side we also see the plate has slightly more vegetables than fruits. Fruit and vegetable servings can be fresh, frozen, canned, dried, or juice.

The other half of the plate contains the grains and the protein foods. On this side of the plate there are more grains than protein foods. When choosing our grains, we should remember that at least half of our grain servings should be from whole grains. The protein foods group includes meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, beans & peas, nuts, seeds, and processed soy products (like tofu). The USDA website reminds us to “go lean with protein”.

At the side of the plate in the image, we see a cup of dairy. The dairy group includes milk, and foods made from milk like cheese, yogurt, and milk-based desserts. Soy milk is also included in the dairy group.

The USDA has all sorts of tools to help families eat healthier, including sample menus with meal and snack ideas and a supertracker to help plan, analyze and track diet and physical activity. It also has information on the benefits of each food group and even tips to help you incorporate each food group into your diet. Go to choosemyplate.gov for more information.

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