There are lots of strategies that can be used to make your eating habits healthier. Cook more. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store. Opt for the appetizer portion at restaurants. Keep a food diary. Eat breakfast. The effectiveness of all of these strategies is dependent upon your ability to fold the action into your regular routine – which in turn is dependent on how simple the behavior is to carry out.
The Department of Agriculture came to this realization last year and wisely updated MyPyramid to MyPlate. MyPlate is the federal government’s latest attempt to simplify the very complex topic of dietary guidance. While it has its shortcomings (read our blogpost on that topic), it does provide basic, actionable advice that will be of use to all Americans. According to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, “The USDA is committed to helping Americans make healthier food choices and our MyPlate symbol is a simple reminder to think before we eat.” To get people thinking more about their plates (and bowls), the USDA has designated Thursday, March 8th as “What’s on MyPlate?” Day. Working with nearly 6,000 partners, the department is encouraging people to share stories and pictures of their healthy plates on Twitter and Flickr with the hashtag #MyPlate.
We’ve decided to get in on the fun, and will be posting some pictures of our plates tomorrow. Why? At the end of the day adopting new behaviors, or modifying existing behaviors, has to start somewhere. We hope you’ll join us and use tomorrow to practice building your plate with these tips from MyPlate.
- Balancing calories: enjoy your food, but eat less; avoid oversized portions
- Foods to increase: make half your plate fruits and vegetables; make at least half your grains whole grains; switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.
- Foods to reduce: compare sodium in foods like soup, bread and frozen meals – and choose foods with lower numbers; drink water instead of sugary drinks.