Health District talks about building healthy meals

My Plate is an update on the food pyramid.

My Plate is an update on the food pyramid.

You’re probably familiar with USDA’s food pyramid. It had grains on bottom, then fruits and veggies, meat and dairy, and finally a little bit of sugar on top. (If you’re a bit older, you remember the four food groups.)

The USDA has updated its nutrition guide and replaced its pyramid with a plate.

My Plate encourages people to proportion their daily meals. It suggests each meal be half fruits and vegetables, a fourth whole grains and a fourth lean protein. A serving of low-fat dairy can be added too.

The Lake County General Health District visited the Mentor Library last week to talk about My Plate and offer some tips on how to keep both your meals and your diet balanced.

1. Make at least half your grains whole

When you can, choose whole-grain cereals, breads, rice and pasta.

2. Make half your plate fruits and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are good for your body. Use them as snacks, side dishes and work them into your entrees. Eat a variety of fruits and veggies to get as many nutrients as possible.

3. Eat the right amount of calories for you

Watch your portion sizes, and that’s easier to do if you’re cooking at home. However, if you are eating out, try to choose a lower-calorie option. The My Plate website even has a food tracker to help you reach your nutrition goals.

4. Vary your protein food choices

You don’t have to just eat chicken with each meal. You can eat seafood, beans and peas, nuts, eggs and other lean meats, along with poultry. Try grilling, broiling, poaching or roasting your food. These preparations don’t add any extra fat to your meal.

5. Switch to skim or 1% milk

Low-fat milk has the same amount of calcium and other essential nutrients with fewer calories than 2-percent or whole milk.

6. Drink water instead of sugary drinks

Energy drinks, sports drinks and soda are easy ways to tack on sugar and calories. Cut those calories by drinking water or other unsweetened beverages instead.

7. Be physically active your way

Diet is just part of the equation. To be healthy, you need to get active. Of course, that doesn’t mean you need to run a marathon tomorrow. Pick activities you like and start by doing what you can, at least 10 minutes at a time. You’ll be surprised how much you can do as your endurance improves.

8. Cut back on foods high in solid fats, added sugars and salt

Be mindful of how much fat, sugar and salt you’re allowing in your diet. We know it’s not good for us, but we let ourselves forget when something looks good at the restaurant or at the grocery store.

Check out ChooseMyPlate.gov for more healthy tips and ways to keep track of what you eat.

Click here for more tips on how to eat and live healthy from the Lake County General Health District.

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