From "My Plate" To Yours
The big news was announced today! The USDA introduced their new food icon to replace the MyPyramid image as the government’s primary food group symbol. The new “my plate” design is an easy-to-understand visual cue that many of us dietitians have already been using for years to educate the public. The plate serves as a visual representation of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
If you work with me privately, you’ve seen a plate before. I’ve been suggesting the “plate method” for dinner meals for quite some time. What I learned from this new plate icon is that the “plate method” can serve as a pattern for the “way you eat” as a whole.
How to use it? Use the plate concept as a way to balance out your food choices (and ultimately, your calories). For example, while grocery shopping, take a look at your cart. Do the contents resemble the balance of calories as illustrated on the plate icon? What foods need to go back on the shelf, and what do you need more of in your cart?
You can also visualize the plate when making food choices by paying attention to your balance of nutrients. If you’re having a sandwich for lunch, another carby side is probably not the best option. However, a side salad, veggies with hummus, or Greek yogurt with berries would be perfect to balance out the sandwich. These types of sides are not only more nutritious than a bag of chips, but they’re also much more satisfying, with staying power to get you to your next meal or snack.
What’s the take-home message? To start, make half your plate vegetables! That’s probably a big change for most people and one I think will deliver the most results. I also think in addition to that, if you eat the veg side of your plate first, then you’ll probably have less room to overeat the protein and carb sides of your plate. I also recommend eating your veg/salad first so you’re sure to get your veggies in before you start getting full (or bored).
So…from my plate to yours, happy eating!
Danielle Omar, MS, RD