We grew up familiarising ourselves with the food pyramid and how important it is to eat more of the food at the bottom and less of the food above. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) created the “My Plate” diagram to accompany the dietary guidelines they just released early this year, and also as part of its campaign against obesity. This replaces the food pyramid, with the objective of communicating healthy eating in a much simpler way.

The old pyramid fails to give people the nutrition advice they need to choose the healthiest diets whereas the plate is based on the latest science about how food, drink and activity choice affect our health. In the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, it aims to offer sound nutrition advice that corresponds to the latest scientific research. The government seeks advice from a scientific panel, one that must include nutrition experts who are leaders in pediatrics, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and public health. Selecting the panelists is no easy task, and is subject to intense lobbying from organizations such as the National Dairy Council, the United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association, the Soft Drink Association, the American Meat Institute, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the Salt Institute, and the Wheat Foods Council

The quadrant consists of vegetables, fruits, protein and grains, and next to the plate is a blue circle for dairy, which could be a glass of milk, cheese or yogurt. The “My Plate” encourages one to fill half of the plate with fruits and veggies, to make half of the grains as whole grains, to switch to fat-free or low-fat milk, to lessen sodium consumption, and to drink water instead of sugary drinks.

Visualising a plate containing the right amount and ratio of nutrients seems more doable and simpler to remember when eating one’s meal. Of course, the total amount of calories per meal is still based on your activity level, goals, gender, health condition and weight. You can check the website, to know more about the specific guidelines.

A Simple Dietary Guideline:

  • Have more greens in your meals.
  • Choose fish twice a week as it has special benefits to your health and heart.
  • Not all proteins are equally healthy. For example, some protein-rich foods, such as meat, poultry, and eggs, are higher in so-called “solid fats”—the saturated and trans fats that needs to be cut back on and replace them with fish and nuts.
  • Go for brown instead of white when it comes to carbohydrates. For example, wholegrain bread and rice instead of white bread and rice.
  • Cut back on red meat and processed meat as it is associated with higher risk of heart disease, diabetes and colon cancer.
  • Limit yourself to 1-2 servings of dairy daily as high dairy product consumption is associated with increased risk of fatal prostate and maybe ovarian cancers

Start looking at your plates differently 🙂

Sharm, MSC
Your personal trainer
Team Fitness Guru

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