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MyPlate: A new symbol, suggestions for eating healthy

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By Cheryl Case

The MyPlate symbol, with a plate, fork and drinking glass, simplifies the message for healthy eating. The plate is divided into four equal sections – vegetables and fruits fill the left half, and grains and protein fill the right. The glass represents dairy products.
The visual will help make the recommendations for eating different food groups clear. The new, simplified dietary plan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Department of Health and Human Services covers balancing calories, increasing certain foods (fruits, vegetables, whole grains) and decreasing others (items with high sodium, solid fats, added sugar and sugary drinks). The message also covers eating the correct number of calories and increasing activity.
Here are highlights of the new MyPlate suggestions:
Build a healthy plate. Make half of your plate fruits and vegetables. Switch to skim or 1 percent mild. Make a minimum of half of your grains bread and whole grain. Vary protein meat choices, eating seafood twice a week and eating more beans, a natural source of protein and fiber.
Cut Back on foods high in solid fats, added sugar and salt. We are still encouraging you to cut back on fats, sugar and salt. Choose foods with little or no added sugar, opting for water, fruits for desserts, and 100 percent fruit juice instead of sugary options. Watch sodium or salt levels in foods. Eat fewer foods with a lot of solid fats, choosing lean meats and oils, and limiting snack foods (cakes, cookies, ice cream, hot dogs, sausage) that contain solid fats.
Eat the right number of calories. Do you know how many calories you can eat daily and not gain weight? Enjoy your food, but eat less. Cook at home so you are in control of your food. Choose lower calorie menu options when eating out. Write down what you eat so you can really keep track of calories.
Be physically active. The health benefits of physical activity increase as you spend more time being active, so start by doing what you can, for at least 10 minutes at a time.
Read food labels. The Nutrition Food label can help you quickly and easily make smart food choices. Check calories, and choose foods with lower calories, saturated fat, trans fat and sodium. Note the serving size of the nutrition analysis. The nutrition analysis is based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Check for added sugars, which come under various names. Food ingredients are listed in order of percentage by weight, so foods and sugars at or near the beginning of the list should be limited.
For more information, visit: http://www.choosemyplate.gove or contact the Harrison County Cooperative Extension Service at 234-5510 or drop by the office Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.