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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Updated approach introduced for healthy eating

Thursday, August 18, 2011

(Photo)
Lauren Holland, Cox Monett health educator
On June 2, First Lady Michelle Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack unveiled the federal government's new food icon, MyPlate, to serve as a reminder to help consumers make healthier food choices.

MyPlate is a new generation icon with the intent to prompt consumers to think about building a healthy plate at meal times and to seek more information to help them do that by going to www.ChooseMyPlate.gov. The new program, which was created as a supplment to the existing MyPyramid model, emphasizes the fruit, vegetable, grains, protein and dairy food groups.

"The thing about the food pyramid, in a lot of ways it was just too complex to understand," said Lauren Holland, Cox Monett Hospital health educator.

Holland explained that it has been hard for families to get a good idea of what a healthy meal should be.

"It wasn't so much the sections of the pyramid that were hard to understand," said Holland. "It was the colors. So now the government has decided to switch it to MyPlate, because it gives you building blocks for a healthy meal."

MyPyramid was a visual illustration of suggested healthy eating habits and physical activity. Like its predecessor, the Food Guide Pyramid, MyPyramid combined the government's dietary guidelines and recommended allowances into six food groups. But instead of illustrating the number of servings based on a one-size-fits-all 2,000 calorie intake, the MyPyramid symbol itself showed six vertical color bands, each representing varying proportions of the pyramid. The colors represented the food groups.

Those wanting to follow the MyPyramid program were required to go online to figure out what color stood for what food group. For specific servings of a given food group, people were encouraged to create their own personal pyramid online, hence the name "MyPyramid." The federal government mandates changes and updates the nation's nutrition guidelines every five years.

"With the MyPlate program," said Holland, "half of the plate should be fruits and vegetables, the smallest part of your plate should be a lean protein and the other part are your grains, such as bread, oatmeal, cereal, spaghetti and the other part is dairy. Dairy is shown as a drink but it can be yogurt or cottage cheese."

Holland oversees a program called Cardiac Kids at Cox Monett Hospital, is on the school health committee and is a certified children's fitness specialist. She travels to 12 area schools and meets with families in an evening class. She talks to the families about fat content, carbohydrates, and portion sizes.

"In talking with a lot of kids and their parents," said Holland, "the main part of their meal is either grain, like if you have spaghetti, it will take up your whole plate and you might have a little side of green beans. Or the main part could be protein like steak, hamburger and then maybe a grain, but the less healthy vegetable, like fries."

Holland said some people make eating healthy harder than it is.

"MyPlate gives you a basic idea of what you should be eating at each meal," said Holland. "It gives you the five building blocks of a healthy meal."

The MyPyramid program still exists and can be used along side the MyPlate program.

The 10 tips to a great plate on MyPlate include: balance calories; enjoy your food, but eat less; avoid oversized portions; eat more vegetables; fruits, whole grains and fat-free dairy products; make half your plate fruits and vegetables; switch to fat-free of low-fat (1 percent) milk; make half your grains whole grains; cut back on foods high in solid fats, added sugars and salt; compare sodium in foods and drink water instead of sugary drinks.

"MyPlate is a lot easier to look at to get an idea as to what you should be eating," said Holland. "The website also has more hands-on tools that families can use.

For more information, visit www.ChooseMyPlate.gov.



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