The USDA’s MyPlate takes the guesswork out of proportioning a healthy diet. The colorful illustration reveals the five food groups that are the building blocks for a healthy diet in plate-sized portions.
Here’s how you can create a healthy plate (according to ChooseMyPlate.gov):
- Make half your plate fruits and vegetables
Choose red, orange and dark green vegetables like tomatoes, sweet potatoes and broccoli, along with other vegetables, for your meals. Add fruit to meals as part of the main dish or side dishes, or as a dessert.
- Make half your grains whole grains
To eat more whole grains, substitute a whole-grain product for a refined product – such as eating whole wheat bread instead of white bread, or brown rice in place of white rice.
- Vary your protein food choices
Eat a variety of foods from the Protein Food Group each week. Experiment with main side dishes made with beans or peas, nuts, soy and seafood.
- Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1 percent) milk
They have the same amount of calcium and other essential nutrients as whole milk, but fewer calories and less saturated fat.
- Avoid oversized portions
Use a smaller plate, bowl and glass. Portion out the foods before you eat. When eating out, choose a smaller-size option, share a dish or take home part of your meal.
Finally, notice what’s missing from the MyPlate illustration and cut back on those foods, including foods high in fat, sugar and salt. Food like cakes, cookies, ice cream, candies, sweetened drinks and pizza, and fatty meats like bacon, sausage and hot dogs, should only be occasional treats, not everyday foods.