Happy New Year!
Nothing like a brand new year to motivate you to change your life. If health is at the top of your resolutions list, then I am here to share some helpful hints with you!
I’m sure you have been bombarded by the ads for supplements, websites, books, diets, and challenges that guarantee to “change your life.” Sounds expensive, I know.
Nutrition can seem extremely complicated. I get it! The thing is, it doesn’t necessarily have to be. I am here to break down the information so that you can easily apply it to your life.
So, first things first. Did you even know that we actually have dietary guidelines in place? Do you recall the Food Guide Pyramid? In 2011, that pyramid switched over to Choose My Plate, which is now used to represent the most up-to-date Dietary Guidelines.
This plate was created to be a familiar image that makes diet recommendations easier to understand. While I personally don’t believe the guidelines are utilized or understood as much as they could be, I do believe they can be a helpful tool when looking to make dietary changes.
The plate was intended to be used as a representation of what an overall diet should look like. Obviously not all foods are eaten off of a plate, and not all food groups are always separated; for example, casseroles, lasagna, sandwiches, and salads, however the plate can be used as a reminder to eat enough of all food groups.
How Can You Use MyPlate to Your Advantage?
The overall message from MyPlate is to eat a variety of nutritious foods; fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables; consume majority of your starchy carbohydrates from whole grains; reduce intake of sodium, saturated fat, and added sugars; and focus on variety and amount.
Let’s take this message and apply it to your life:
- “Fill half of your plate with fruits and vegetables” – Essentially, eat plenty of these foods! It’s no secret that a diet high in fruits and vegetables is beneficial. This may not mean having a fruit and a vegetable at every single meal, but having at least 1.5-2 cups of fruit per day and having 2.5-3 cups of vegetables per day.
- 1 cup of fruit = 1 small apple; 1 large orange; 1 measured out cup of berries/applesauce/grapes/ or any cut up fruit, 8 large strawberries
- 1 cup of vegetables = 1 cup measured out cut up vegetables COOKED. Vegetables decrease in volume when they are cooked due to water loss.
- Fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables are a great option!
- “Consume majority of your starchy carbohydrates from whole grains” – Whole grains include foods such as brown rice, quinoa, bulgur, oats, 100% whole wheat bread and pasta. The USDA recommends 5-6 ounce equivalents for women and 6-8 ounce equivalents for men. (These recommendations are for non-active individuals. Those who are involved in moderate to intense physical activity may require more! Also, these are basic guidelines created to account for the entire population. Remember everyone is different and you may require more or less depending on your lifestyle.)
- 1 ounce equivalent = 1 slice 100% whole wheat/grain bread; 1/2 cup cooked oatmeal; 1 cup whole grain cereal; 1/2 cup cooked brown rice; 1/2 cup cooked spaghetti
- Whole grains are important because of their fiber, vitamin, and mineral content.
- “Reduce intake of sodium, saturated fat, and added sugars” – These three are found in processed and fast foods. Long-term high intake of sodium, saturated fat, and added sugars can lead to compromised health outcomes such as cardiovascular disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers. Remember that everything in moderation is okay, it’s just when we over-do it that it can become an issue.
- “Focus on variety and amount” – This one is relatively self-explanatory! Just eat a variety of wholesome foods that you enjoy and pay attention to portion size. The MyPlate can help you become more aware of portion sizes by filling a quarter of your plate with whole grains, another quarter of it with a protein food, and the rest with vegetables and fruit!
If you need any clarification, visit www.choosemyplate.gov for more information about the current dietary guidelines, or shoot me an email at email@example.com ! Be on the lookout for more nutrition basics blogs, emails, and social media posts.
Thanks for reading!