One of the easiest things you can do to improve your health involves using a tool you already use every time you eat – your plate – and how you fill that plate. Using your plate as a guide can help you eat the right foods and right amount of foods for better health. The concept is simple; first fill your plate (or bowl) half full of vegetables and fruit.
Why does MyPlate™ work? By filling your plate half full of fruits and vegetables, you get many powerful health benefits including:
- Nutrients such as folate, magnesium, potassium, fiber and vitamins A, C and K that are under-consumed by many Americans.
- Reduced risk of chronic diseases such as heart attack, stroke and certain types of cancers.
- Maintenance of healthy weight because most fruits and veggies are low in calories and high in fiber.
Use the idea every time you eat whether it’s breakfast, eating out, a snack or dessert or going back for a second helping. Visualize the plate or bowl and first fill it half full of a fruit and/or vegetable.
- Consider the size of your plate. Try using a 9-inch plate as a way to reduce portion size and calories.
- Review the food groups; what foods fit into each section?
- Visually divide the plate or bowl in half.
- Fill half of the plate with veggies and/or fruit.
- Fill one-quarter of the plate with lean meat or protein.
- Fill one-quarter of the plate with grains, including whole grains as much as possible.
- Add one serving of low-fat milk, yogurt or cheese.
- Know proper portion sizes for each MyPlate™ section. You still need to measure!
- Focus on whole, low-fat foods:
- fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables
- whole grains
- fresh, lean protein
- skim milk, cheese and nonfat yogurt
Here are examples of how to make MyPlate™ work for you.
Family Dinner: Whole wheat spaghetti noodles topped with meat sauce, side of leafy green salad with cherry tomatoes, glass of skim milk, broiled pineapple for dessert.
Brown Bag Lunch: Sandwich – whole wheat bread, turkey, low-fat cheese and fresh vegetables, side of baby carrots, 2 clementines.
Quick Breakfast: Parfait – nonfat yogurt layered with berries, granola and sliced almonds, banana on the side.
For more information or specific information on MyPlate™, contact a Hy-Vee dietitian.
By Holly Ellison, RD, LD
Hy-Vee Registered Dietitian