Thursday, June 2, 2011

No more food pyramid?

The shape of healthy eating is about to change for you and your family. Federal health officials are tossing out the food pyramid and replacing it with the plate!

First introduced in1992, the food guide pyramid has been a symbol of eating right for the last two decades. It’s replacement in 2005 by "MyPyramid” was a less than optimal change with many complaints that it was just too confusing. As a registered dietitian and educator of healthy eating and nutrition, I am welcoming this update, happily saying goodbye to the old pyramid and particularly excited about this new-found idea of the plate. What better way to symbolize healthy eating? Starting with something familiar to the public eye -- everyone, of all age range, can recognize a plate, right?

Word is that officials are dishing up a simple, plate-shaped symbol, sliced into four wedges. It contains grains, protein, fruits and vegetables. Next to the plate is a smaller circle for dairy which might suggest a glass of low-fat milk or a yogurt cup, but not to forget one of my favorite dairy foods -- (low fat) cheese!! Along with the visual appeal of a deliciously healthy meal, there will be a "how-to" section with six messages to guide you to healthy living. These six how-to messages will include:

Balancing Colors
**enjoy your food, but eat less
**avoid oversized portions
Foods to Increase
**make half your plate fruits and veggies
**switch to fat free milk or low fat
Foods to Reduce
**compare sodium levels in foods -- and choose lower numbers
**drink water instead of sugary drinks

Keep your eye out for the new plate. Personally, I teach the ‘plate method’ daily, encouraging my clients to fill half their plate with non-starchy veggies, a quarter with a whole grain, and the remaining quarter with a lean protein. Needless to say, I am eager to learn the remaining details and incorporate this (somewhat) new teaching tool into my bag of tricks, fit for getting the public,!

Amber Massey, RD, LD
Registered Dietitian
Executive Health Program
Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth

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