National Nutrition Month | MyPlate

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We recently discussed MyPlate, the current nutrition guide published by the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy & Promotion, with two of our registered dieticians at the Center for Healthy Weight and Wellness, Rachel Steinke and Karen Homan. We also discussed the best way to get started eating a balanced diet.

“Too often we hear messages about strict diets or eliminating certain food groups. However, MyPlate focuses on a healthy, balanced eating style and is evidence based. The evidence may change, as have the education materials, but the quality of the research is intact,” Rachel Steinke said.

MyPlate is a guideline promoting a balanced healthy eating style that can be implemented throughout your lifetime. What you eat and drink matters and the right combination can help you be healthier now and in the future. The general guidelines of MyPlate are simple:

  • Focus on variety, amount and nutrition of foods
  • Choose foods and beverages with less saturated fat, sodium and added sugars
  • Start with small changes to build healthier eating styles
  • Support healthy eating for everyone

The best way to learn about MyPlate is to visit choosemyplate.gov or to download the app called “Start Simple with MyPlate.” On the website, you will find tips for changing your current habits, healthy recipes and videos, MyPlate plans that formulate how many calories and food groups you need to consume each day and even ways to prevent food waste. The app is a helpful tool if you want accountability with healthy eating.

The app suggests basic goals to help promote healthier eating and challenges to push you to continue to change. You can also earn badges for meeting goals. The MyPlate 101 feature allows you to reference how much of each food group you should be eating for your age and gender, what counts as a serving, and the health benefits of each food group. Together, these resources aid in your understanding and can support your desire to eat and live healthy.

It’s also important to be aware of promises of fad diets. Fad diets often eliminate food groups and restrict eating. This does not allow for the variety and diversity of foods needed for a balanced diet. Lifestyle changes rely on a variety of foods to ensure you do not get bored or give up healthy eating.

Two of the most common misconceptions that people have about diet overall is that all carbs are bad and that any protein is good. They tend to believe if they avoid all carbs and eat only protein, they will lose weight and be healthy.

“When it comes to fad diets, much of my conversation with patients is about how realistic a restrictive eating plan is for the long term,” Karen Homan said. “It’s important to be realistic and to look at what you can do long term, rather than focusing your diet around a short term goal (swimsuit season or an upcoming vacation or wedding, for example). Diet should not be short term – it should to be looked at as long-term behavior change.”

For more information on developing a healthy eating style, contact our Center for Healthy Weight and Wellness at 419-678-8446.

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