Long live your plate!

Did you hear the news? No longer should you be basing your child’s eating habits on the colorful pyramid which, for many, is hard to translate to serving sizes.

MyPlate, the Department of Agriculture’s latest attempt, aims to help with that issue. Using a color-coded plate to show portion size, the plate also serves as a pie chart. Half your meal, for example, should be made up of fruits and vegetables. About a quarter of your meal should be dedicated to healthy grains and around 20 percent to a lean protein. Don’t forget to have a small serving of dairy, like milk, to go with it.

“This is a quick, simple reminder for all of us to be more mindful of the foods that we’re eating,” First Lady Michelle Obama said during a press conference this week. “We’re all bombarded with so many dietary messages that it’s hard to find time to sort through all this information, but we do have time to take a look at our kids’ plates.”

In 1992, the government released the pyramid in hopes of making healthy food choices easier. Instead, people have focused on the percentages of each type of food but not the serving size. It was updated in 2005 to add a figure running up stairs on the side of the pyramid. A healthy lifestyle, it was supposed to highlight, includes exercise. Now you can look at MyPlate and translate the lesson easily to the food you’re serving to your family.
The website, choosemyplate.gov, offers helpful suggestions for healthy foods to fill each section. Simply click on the grains portion of the plate, for example, and get a list of foods to for your meal.
Also, keep these helpful hints in mind:

Balancing Calories
● Enjoy your food, but eat less.
● Avoid over-sized portions.

Foods to Increase
● Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
● Make at least half your grains whole grains.
● Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1 percent) 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.

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