Small Changes Add Up for Better Health

My plate picture

Food portions can be a challenge, but choosing sensible amounts of all food is important for achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. The best way to achieve and maintain a healthy weight is to make small, long-term changes in what you eat and drink, along with getting daily physical activity.

Follow the MyPlate healthy eating food plan:

  • Make half your plate fruits and vegetables—think variety and make it colorful.
  • Make half your grains whole grains.
  • Choose low-fat and fat-free dairy products.
  • Vary your protein—poultry, seafood, meat, eggs, nuts, and beans.

Other helpful tips:

  • Avoid portion distortion—read labels, measure, and place servings into containers or baggies.
  • Record the amount of food you eat with a three- to five-day food journal—you might be surprised!
  • Use smaller bowls and plates at mealtime.
  • Choose foods with less saturated fats, sodium, and added sugar.
  • Cook more often at home to control the ingredients in your food.
  • When dining out, look at nutritional information before ordering.
  • Drink water or low-calorie beverages with meals.
  • Get the recommended 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week.

Set realistic and achievable goals for your health. Remember, if you slip up one day don’t dwell on it, just press on with your health goals in mind. Download Key Nutrients from the Extension Store for additional information.

My Plate Message: Proportions

My plate pictureThe USDA released the new food icon ‘MyPlate’ on June 2, 2011. The intent of the new icon is to simplify the dietary guidance included in the Dietary Guidelines 2010 and MyPyramid. MyPlate is not intended to replace MyPyramid, but rather simplify the message making it easier to follow for Americans.

The key message of MyPlate is the proportion each food group should contribute to your plate.

  1. The icon conveys that half of your plate should consist of fruits and vegetables, with vegetables comprising slightly more than the fruits.
  2. The other half of the plate consists of grains and proteins, with grains comprising slightly more than the protein.
  3. Dairy is depicted as a circle (e.g., glass of milk) off to the side of the plate.

While the proportion of food groups on your plate is fairly straightforward, there are
some key messages not represented by the icon that Americans need to keep in mind.

Balance Calories

  • Enjoy your food, but eat less.
  • 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 – and choose the foods with lower numbers.
  • Drink water instead of sugary drinks.

Each of these messages remains consistent with messages from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 and MyPyramid. The real benefit of MyPlate is the simple, concise message of proportionality on your plate.

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