Move over MyPyramid, MyPlate is replacing you.
“Get Your Plate in Shape” is the theme of the 2012 National Nutrition Month, sponsored by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
The food pyramid program, officially released in April 1992 by the United States Department of Agricultural (USDA), has served as a nutrition education program. The pyramid was divided into levels representing the four major food groups. Oils, fats and other foods that should be used sparingly made up the top of the pyramid.
The next level was divided in half where one side represents two to three daily servings of dairy products. The other half represents protein with two to three servings of meat, poultry, fish and dried beans daily. The next largest level is made up of vegetables and fruits.
The guidelines are three to five servings of vegetables and two to three servings of fruit. The bottom level represents grains and is the largest of the food groups. The recommendation from this group is six to eleven servings of grains daily.
According to Debbie Bell, Licensed and Registered Dietician and Certified Diabetes Educator with the Franklin County Health Department, the pyramid received a face-lift around 2005 since one size did not fit all. The new MyPyramid symbolized a personal approach to healthy eating and physical activity.
This approach incorporated the concepts of moderation, proportionality, variety and activity leading to gradual improvement in diet and lifestyle choices.
However, even the updated approach did not resolve all of the problematic issues around the pyramid. One of the biggest issues continued to be serving size. Unless an individual was adept at reading food labels, serving size remained an illusive issue. A container might contain two and a half servings, but the calories and nutritional values were listed for one serving only.
Because one third of the children and two thirds of the adults in the U.S. are overweight or obese, simplifying nutritional and physical activity level information is more important than ever. The “Get Your Plate in Shape” campaign emphasizes visualizing what goes on your plate or in your bowl. During the course of a day, you should include foods from all of the food groups.
Another recommendation is to make half of the plate fruits and vegetables, eating a wide variety of both. Look for either reduced sodium or no-salt added frozen or canned vegetables in addition to fresh produce. Choose fresh, frozen, dried or canned in water fruits and choose 100 percent juice.
Other recommendations include choosing 100 percent whole-grain, breads, cereals and pasta whenever possible. Switching to fat-free or low-fat dairy products will reduce the calories and fat without reducing calcium and other essential nutrients. Vary your choices of protein, but include fish as your protein choice twice a week. Use portion control to decrease overeating and limit the amount of fat and added sugar in your diet.
Consult your healthcare provider about adopting healthier lifestyle changes. For more detailed and personalized information on food and physical activity, visit Let’s Eat for the Health of it at www.ChooseMyPlate.gov.