Many people are familiar with the “four basic food groups” and the USDA’s Food Pyramid that shows whole grains forming a wide, supportive base and fats and sweets at the tiny tip.
The new My Plate guide is an easier-to-understand alternative to the previous dietary helpers for American families. After all, you don’t eat from a pyramid, do you? The My Plate concept shows you exactly what a healthy dinner plate should look like. It’s pretty simple:
- At least half of each meal should be made up of fruits and vegetables.
- Grains should make up a bit more than half of the rest of your plate -- and at least half of those should be whole grains.
- Fill out the rest of your plate with healthy protein sources like poultry, fish, lean meats, beans, and egg whites.
- Get 2 to 3 cups of dairy a day. Keep it lean by switching to fat-free or low-fat milk. There are also dairy alternatives, such as soy milk.
How can you make your new plate as healthy as it can be? There are plenty of tasty possibilities.
- Study the labels when shopping. If you’re looking for whole-grain bread, for example, the first ingredient should have the words "whole grain" in it, or the name of a grain, like oatmeal, buckwheat, or millet. "Multi-grain" breads usually aren’t whole grain.
- Look for meats that are "90% lean" or better on the label.
- Trim away all the visible fat on meats before cooking.
- Vary your fruits and veggies -- they all have different nutritional content.
- Steam, grill, bake, or broil fish, poultry, and meat instead of frying or sautéing it.
- Start every meal with a veggie-packed salad or soup, to satisfy hunger sooner.
- Ask for an appetizer-sized portion when out at restaurants. You can try something tantalizing while not overeating.