by Jaclyn Kreifels, University of Northern Colorado Dietetic Intern
Your food and physical activity choices each day affect your health — how you feel today, tomorrow, and in the future.
Using MyPlate from the USDA can help you make good food choices from each of the food groups every day.
The MyPlate design, created by the United States Department of Agriculture, helps utilize all five food groups to help you create a healthy and colorful plate of food. Visualizing plate design can assist you in making healthy choices of what should go on your plate and how to select adequate portions for a balanced and nutritious meal.
Building a healthy meal begins with making half of your plate full of fruits and vegetables, and the other half divided between whole grain and lean or low-fat protein sources. Try to make a conscious effort to adjust your portions accordingly and be full of color as well.
Be Mindful of What You Are Eating
Eat mindfully ... be aware of what you are eating, especially as you are eating it. Remember, eating too quickly can cause you to over eat without realizing it. Slow down and take control of your food, as well as knowledge of what you are eating.
Read the nutrition information on food labels and compare different products to know exactly what you are eating and make healthier choices. Also, keep it interesting! Always be open to try new items and ingredients. You never know when you might find a new favorite. Check out some of these tips below to incorporate new food into your healthy diet.
Eating whole grains is easier than it may seem. A grain product is considered whole grain when it contains the entire grain kernel – including the bran, germ and endosperm.
Eating whole grains may reduce the risk of some chronic diseases. Any food made from wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley, or another cereal grain is a grain product.
Be careful when purchasing whole grain foods as many labels can be misleading -- read labels carefully to be sure the food contains whole grains.
Incorporating vegetables into your diet increases your intake of fiber and other key nutrients. Raw or cooked; fresh, frozen, or canned; or dried/dehydrated; vegetables are nutrient packed.
Vegetables are low in fat and calories and can easily add color, flavor, and texture to your meal. Vegetables are very versatile -- whether consumed raw, cooked, or added to your main dish, the possibilities are endless.
Explore many creative ways to bring healthy foods to your table and kid friendly ideas too!
Focusing on fruits can lead to a multitude of health benefits. Incorporating fruit into your diet can potentially reduce some chronic diseases, such as heart attack and stroke. Fruit provides essential health nutrients such as potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin C and folate (folic acid).
Most fruits are naturally low in fat, sodium, calories and no fruit has cholesterol.
Fruit can be fresh, canned, frozen or dried. You can eat fruit whole, cut up, or pureed! Try mixing fruits together, adding them to oatmeal for breakfast, or taking them with you for a quick and nutritious snack. Any fruit, or 100% fruit juice, counts as part of the fruit group!
Most calcium, vitamin D, and potassium containing foods can be found in the Dairy Group. This group includes milk, yogurt, cheese and fortified soymilk.
For the best impact on your diet, chose dairy items that are low fat or fat-free. For tips on incorporating smart dairy choices into your meal, click here.
The intake of of dairy products is linked to helping improve bone health and may reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Eating dairy products is especially important during childhood and adolescence, when bone mass is being built.
The Protein Group consists of both animal and plant based sources. Animal protein sources range from meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs. Plant-based protein sources include beans, peas, soy products, nuts, and seeds.
Most individuals over the age of 9 should have approximately 5 to 7 ounces of protein foods each day. Protein dishes can be cooked in multiple ways including grilling, broiling, baking or roasting.
Be sure to include a variety of protein sources on a weekly basis including lean meat and poultry, seafood, nuts and seeds! Part of your protein intake should include at least 8 ounces of cooked seafood per week.Meat and poultry choices should be lean or low-fat.
Currently featuring ...
(Updated May 20, 2013)
- Healthy Bites Newsletter
May: Beef Month
- Cook It Quick Newsletter
- Food Reflections Newsletter
December Issue: 9 Tips for Staying Active over the Winter Holidays
- Walk Nebraska Newsletter
May 2013: Healthy Recipes Easy to Find
- Making HealthierRDecisions
- Nutrition Know How Blog
(A new tip posted weekly)
- Discover Foods Blog
(a new tip posted weekly)
- Cook It Quick Blog
(published 1 -2 times/month)
- A Runner Eats
(Written by a dietitian/former Univ. of Nebraska All-American runner)
- Food, Nutrition & Health by the Month Calendar
- Food Fun for Young Kids (Pinterest)
- Easy (& Healthy!) Everyday Recipes (Pinterest)
- "Choose MyPlate" Update (video)
- 4-Day Throw Away (food safety app)
- Choose MYPlate: Selected Consumer Messages (free PowerPoint and online slide show)
- Test Your Salt Savvy (quiz)
More Nutrition Topics
Color Yourself Healthy Video
Functional Foods - PDF only
EC473 Functional Foods reviews food label rules for functional foods, their physiologically active components, and their specific health benefits.
*NebGuides are 2-4 pages in length. Extension Circulars are full color, 8 page PDFs.