Focus on Nutrition: Get Your Plate in Shape

Friday, March 09, 2012 8:11 AM

Healthy-EatingGetting in shape and thinking about your daily nutrition is now a little easier. The food pyramid has been replaced by the new MyPlate visual, which is based on the most recent revision of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

There are three main focus areas for the new Dietary Guidelines. Melissa Joy Dobbins, a registered dietitian at NorthShore, provides tips on how to put these strategies into action:

Balancing Calories:

  • Enjoy your food, but eat less – Try using smaller plates, bowls and cups.
  • Avoid oversized portions – Watch your portion sizes to help decrease your intake of excess calories. Follow the MyPlate visual to balance your plate for optimal nutrition. 

Foods to Increase:

  • Make half your plate fruits and vegetables – Many people don’t realize that fruits and vegetables don’t have to be fresh or organic to be healthy.  Produce that is frozen, canned and dried is a nutrient-rich and budget-friendly option.
  • Make at least half your grains whole grains – Add a little variety to your meals by experimenting with different whole grains in place of more processed and refined starches.  Try brown rice instead of white, or snack on popcorn instead of chips.
  • Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk – Gradually switching from whole or 2% milk to lower-fat milk cuts the fat and calories, but doesn’t reduce the calcium or other essential nutrients.

Foods to Reduce:

  • Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals – and choose the foods with lower numbers.  A food that contains 140 mg of sodium or less is considered “low sodium” and if it contains 35 mg or less, it is considered “very low sodium.”
  • Drink water instead of sugary drinks – Make it a point to carry a bottle of water with you during the day.  Try diluting fruit juice with water to cut the sugar and calories, while still providing flavor and fluids.

For more helpful ideas to get your plate in shape, check out the “Ten Tips” series.

What nutrition tips do you have? How balanced is your plate?

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