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Do you ever feel like you are playing whack-a-mole with nutrition information that pops up in the news?

A piece of nutrition advertising pops up and you turn to listen to it. Then a different bit of nutrition advertising pops up on a different topic and grabs your attention.

Whack-a-mole no more. Solid nutrition evidence exists with ChooseMyPlate.gov material. The image of MyPlate is of a plate divided into four unequal sections with a dairy component to the right of the plate. It’s a colorful and easy to understand visual and its message is we should get our nutrient needs from real food.

One of the takeaways from the campaign is “Everything you eat or drink over time matters and can help you be healthier today and into the future.”

What we eat and drink does matter.

Take, for instance, fruits and vegetables. With these, color matters. Eating fruits and vegetables in a rainbow of colors will help you get a variety of different nutrients needed by the body. It also means you’ll consume antioxidants which I like to think of as shields of armor protecting us from the nasty free radicals that are harmful to the body. Make half your plate fruits and vegetables. Eat whole fresh fruits and veggies as they are. Eat more roasted, sautéed or steamed veggies.

What else matters? Whole grains matter. Oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat tortillas, whole wheat bread and popcorn are some whole grains options. A quarter of the plate is recommended for grains in general. Make half of your grains whole grains. Watch the ingredient labels on products because they can be tricky. For example, wheat bread isn’t considered a whole grain bread because “whole wheat flour” isn’t found on the ingredient list. Look for whole grains listed first or second on the ingredient list of a label.

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Protein foods make up a smaller part of the plate, less than a quarter of it, because we get protein from other foods such as grains, vegetables and dairy. Vary the protein you eat. Consider trying main dishes made with beans like black bean tacos or enchiladas, vegetable and bean soup, or seafood. Unsalted nuts, soy products, and lean cuts of meats and poultry as well as eggs contain protein. Have meatless meals once or twice a week.

The last section of MyPlate represents dairy. Choose low-fat or fat free yogurt, cheese, milk or alternate milk sources such as soy, almond or other plant milks.

Variety matters. Whether food is canned, fresh, or frozen, all forms of food can be included in a healthy eating pattern.

No longer will you need to whack those moles of nutrition advertising. Focus on ChooseMyPlate.gov for sound advice on how best to get optimum nutrition from the foods you eat.

The Platte County Lifestyle Coalition (PCLC) is a local coalition and its vision is to get people engaged in healthy lifestyles. Eat Well is the second of five messages PCLC is sharing with the community to help community members have better health. For more information about PCLC, contact Roberta at rhmiksch@columbushosp.org.

This article was written by Roberta Miksch, coordinator of the Platte County Lifestyle Coalition.

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News Editor

Sam Pimper is the news editor of The Columbus Telegram, Schuyler Sun and The Banner-Press newspapers. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2015.

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