Hi everyone! This is my first official post, I hope you will find if useful. If you haven’t read my “about me” yet, that will give you a better idea of what this blog is about. With that being said, I will jump right in!
As some of you may or may not be aware of, the USDA’s “My Pyramid” has recently been replaced by the “MyPlate” seen below:
There is a lot of mixed opinion among the public and nutrition professionals concerning the change to MyPlate. Common questions ask, is it more useful? Easy to understand? Practical to apply? While the details are still being worked out by the USDA, I wanted to share with you my interpretation of the plate and how it can be practically used in everyday life.
When looking at it, you see one of the main messages is to make half of your plate fruits and vegetables. While you probably don’t have a half plate of fresh strawberries with your spaghetti and meatballs, there are plenty of realistic ways to meet the recommendations of the plate. When I sat down to each meal, I found myself looking at the plate or bowl that I was eating from. I then asked myself: Is half of what I’m eating fruits or vegetables? Often times the answer was no. What about your plate? Is it a large portion of meat, grains, and a small side of salad (if you’re still hungry after)? If so, here are some recommendations that I found useful in making my plate more like the MyPlate:
- Try an egg white omelet with onions, bell peppers of choice, tomatoes, or mushrooms
- Prefer oatmeal? Try adding a sliced banana or apple to it. The warm oatmeal will slightly cook the banana or apple releasing the natural delicious sweetening power of the fruit
- Add frozen or fresh berries to your morning cereal
- Instead of butter, top toast with no sugar added apple butter
- Follow a two-fruit-rule. When packing your lunch, always pack two fruits. This is a guaranteed way to get the requirements you need, and will help fill you up. For example, one medium orange and one medium pear fulfill the MyPlate’s 2 cup daily fruit recommendation. No chopping, dicing, or cooking required, it’s as simple as rinsing off the fruit and tossing it in your lunch bag!
- Not a huge fan of fruit? Try some chopped carrots & cucumbers with a side of hummus or low-fat ranch. The dip will help to fill your stomach, and make the veggies more tasty.
For me, this was the biggest challenge. I consider myself a healthy eater, but dinners main focus was usually always the meat or grain, with the vegetables composing only about 1/4 of the plate. For dinner, looking at the plate itself and making sure 50% is fruit or vegetables is the key. Here are some good tips to start:
- When in doubt, make extra veggies. I’ve found that steaming an extra head of broccoli results in very little waste and more getting eaten. If you are following the half plate rule, “cleaning your plate” requires eating all the veggies that are there!
- Decrease meat portions to 3 oz (equal to a deck of cards). This is an appropriate portion size for a normal meal, and will allow you more room for your new and improved half plate of vegetables
- If the thought of vegetables make you cringe, get creative and make them in a way you can enjoy! For example, roast your vegetables of choice in the oven with a splash of olive or canola oil and Italian seasoning. Roasting will bring out the vegetables’ sweetness and the spices add lots and lots of flavor!
I have found these tips useful and more importantly, practical in my day-to-day busy schedule, and I hope that you can too!