We all know that what we eat matters, and there’s no shortage of information out there about healthy nutrition. Add to that the list of weight-loss plans and diets, organic vs. non-organic, vegetarian, vegan, raw food, gluten-free and so on. The list is endless!
The best nutritional plan is one that is tailored to you as an individual and that can help you maintain a healthy weight and healthy eating habits over the course of your lifetime. There is a growing concern in the U.S. about how we eat and the impact of obesity. There have been estimates that more than half of Americans could be obese by the year 2030, which could result in millions of cases of diabetes, coronary heart disease, and stroke — a trio of illnesses that could cost the country billions in treatment and lost economic productivity. What we eat and how much we eat has a direct impact on our quality of life, now and in the future.
In 1992, the Food Pyramid was introduced by the USDA as a guide to healthy eating. Unfortunately, consumers found it confusing and not very user-friendly. Ultimately, it did not translate into practical use by the general public. Enter MyPlate. The USDA, in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and others, developed and released MyPlate as the new nutritional standard in 2011. MyPlate offers a visual reminder, a plate, to aid consumers in making healthy food choices. The MyPlate recommendation is making half of our plate fruits and vegetables and the other half whole grains, lean proteins, and low fat dairy.
Here it is:
The government’s guidelines also suggest that Americans reduce their consumption of salt, sugar and fat, and recommend that they eat less overall.
Nutrition and lifestyle changes can be difficult to make, and to sustain. MyPlate offers a visual that is easy to understand and implement, although not everyone agrees with it. A New York University professor of nutrition interviewed in the New York Times (June 2, 2011) felt that including a large section of the plate labeled “protein” was confusing and unnecessary, because it does not clarify that grains and dairy are important sources of protein and because most Americans already get more protein than they need. The emphasis on fruits and vegetable was commended, however, since “Americans aren’t used to eating this way……… this is a big change.”
It can be hard to sort through all the information available about what constitutes the basics of a healthy eating plan. MyPlate offers a simple way to be more mindful of what we are eating to ensure balanced and optimal nutrition.