MyPlate: Everything you need to know

Do you catch yourself asking, is this meal nutritious? We have the perfect answer for you! MyPlate is the current food and nutrition guide from the United States Department of Agriculture and was created to give Americans an easy visual guide to help them make more nutritious choices. The nutrition recommendations within MyPlate are based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

The MyPlate graphic shows a place setting. There is a plate and glass divided into five food groups that are recommended parts of a balanced eating pattern. A place setting may also look like a bowl, family style meal, communal table setting or however you and your family typically eat meals.

MyPlate is a guide to encourage healthy eating with an understanding that food choices may vary day to day and eating foods from each food group is important. Communicating that “small changes matter” can help guide neighbors towards one or two small changes that work for them. Everyone will incorporate individual eating plans, cultures and preferences into their food choices.

The 5 Sections– MyPlate represents the 5 major food groups in an easy to read, color coded diagram.

Fruits: ¼ of the plate is dedicated to fruits such as apples, strawberries, bananas, oranges, etc. This food group provides fiber and nutrients that promote a varied eating pattern.
Vegetables: ¼ of the plate is dedicated to vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, squash, etc. Vegetables provide nutrients and fiber also!
Protein: ¼ of the plate should be filled with protein choices such as beans, nuts, meat products (fish, beef, poultry) etc. Protein helps to provide your body with energy!
Grains: ¼ of the plate should be filled with grains such as rice, pasta, or bread. Grains are crucial to the diet and contain carbohydrates to fuel all your daily activities.
Dairy: Beside the plate is a cup of dairy, this can be in the form of cheese, milk, or yogurt that are incorporated into your meal or on the side! Dairy provides calcium and other needed properties for a healthy body!

Other Advice!- MyPlate and the USDA have developed many tactics that promote healthy eating and these tips should be considered when planning your next meal!

1. Choose variety- the best plates have foods from all different groups!
2. Half your plate should be fruits and vegetables!
3. Prioritize making half your grains whole!
4. Drink low-fat or fat-free milk and water rather than sugar sweetened beverages!
5. Be mindful of portion size!

It is crucial to understand that healthy choices add up over time. Simple changes can be made each day to promote healthy behaviors and by following MyPlate. Some of these changes can seem like big steps, but it’s important to remember that there are many ways to incorporate all these groups into your meals. Fresh, frozen, and canned fruits and vegetables are all great choices and protein comes in all different shapes and sizes! Experiment with fun recipes and meal combinations and you may find your new favorite nutritious meal.

Check out these recipes to add to your next MyPlate meal:

Colorful Coleslaw
Summer Vegetable Salsa
Oven Baked Fries

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