Dissecting the Plate
Here's a rundown of the basic messages that go along with the Plate, and how SparkPeople's food philosophy fits into them.
The plate features five food groupings, each represented by their own color. The largest area is vegetables, followed by grains. Dairy is offset to the side of the plate, but if you choose not to eat or drink dairy products, the ChooseMyPlate.gov website also lists calcium-fortified soy milk to be nutritionally equivalent in place of milk.
In addition to the Plate graphic itself, the new icon is accompanied by the following nutritional guidelines that offer more information for healthy eating.
Don’t worry if your favorite meals don’t fit exactly onto the new Plate. Many of the dishes we eat are combinations foods such as soups, stews, casseroles, pizza, stir fries, and burritos. "These foods will require a little dissection," states Hand. While it can be hard to determine the exact portion size of each food group within a meal like a casserole or burrito (as it related to the Plate), simply do your best. The USDA doesn't currently offer guidelines to help Americans dissect their combination meals, but we expect more tips to come in this area very soon.
"Now it is your turn to start planning," suggests Hand. "Is half your plate filled with fruits and veggies? Are you getting at least three servings of whole-grain foods daily? Take a peek in your pantry. Are there foods from every food group available for meal planning? If not, then get out paper and a pencil and start creating a grocery list."
Going out for dinner tonight? Can you put together a meal that includes all the foods in the right amounts from the restaurant menu? Get your children involved in the meal planning adventure, and don’t be surprised when you hear, "Hey, the vegetables are missing from my plate.” Now that will be music to your ears!
Food pyramid and Plate images courtesy of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and ChooseMyPlate.gov. The USDA does not endorse any products, services, or organizations.
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United States Department of Agriculture. "USDA's MyPlate," accessed June 2011. www.choosemyplate.gov.
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