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On My Plate

plate2Here’s a great article that was in the Sun Chronicle this AM. It’s written by Susan LaHound
I’ll try and post things like this when I see them. If you have ideas, recipies, links to things like this, let me know and I’ll post.

On MY Plate
With the pyramid history, nutritionists hope new tool will clarify guidelines
While not as ancient as those in Egypt, one pyramid has for many years stood as a model for proper nutrition.

Over the years, ingrained through many a school health class, the food pyramid changed in its construction.

“It moved more horizontally, then more laterally,” noted Deb Ebert, nurse coordinator and a member of the wellness committee for Attleboro public schools.

Now, perhaps in order to make it more palatable, the United States Department of Agriculture and others, including First Lady Michelle Obama, who has helped to spearhead the push for nutrition and exercise, especially with current youth lifestyles and growing obesity rates, that model has been de-constructed to a plate.
plate-11<“My Pyramid,” replaced the “Food Guide Pyramid,” which was introduced in 1992 and was part of an overall food guidance system that emphasized the need for a more individualized approach to improving diet and lifestyle, according to the federal agricultural department. “My Plate” was served up last month, replacing the pyramid. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s My Plate guidelines. (Image courtesy of USDA)”The food pyramid was a bit confusing,” admits Judy Aubin, the head nurse for North Attleboro public schools. “A food plate might be more understandable.”

While in many communities like North Attleboro health educators or health curriculum coordinators at some school levels have been eliminated or their jobs absorbed by others, diet and lifestyle have increasingly taken the national spotlight.

Compared to your grandmother’s generation in which children were required to clean the plate of meat and potatoes – and encouraged to have seconds – today’s ideal plate translates to smaller portions, more fruits and vegetables, some whole grain items and lean protein.

Fat-free or 1 percent milk is also on the table, along with water, versus sugar-laden beverages.

Watching sodium/salt content is also a key item to keep in mind for the menu.

Kathy Blackledge, a registered dietitian at Sturdy Memorial Hospital, said they have been using a plate as a guide for awhile. “People readily identify with a plate, because at least once a day, they eat off one,” she said. “It’s a useful tool because it’s so simplistic,” said Blackledge, noting people should use a 9-inch-size plate to help control portion size.

Half the plate should consists of vegetables and fruits; the other half should be shared with protein and whole grain/starch selections.

“We encourage people to have at least three food groups on the plate,” she said.

Blackledge said the focus from pyramid to plate has shifted somewhat.

“The 1992 Food Guide Pyramid had all food groups represented,” she said. “The My Pyramid introduced physical activity, along with another pyramid strand for oils.”

The plate helps to put things clearly in perspective.

“Portion control is a huge focus” of the most recent dietary guidelines, she said. And using a plate as a tool to teach proper portions, “It’s a clear visual.”

“We’re so accustomed in this country to super-sized portions, people get used to that size” which can translate to two or more servings of a single item, much more than is recommended as part of a healthy diet, she said. It’s called “portion distortion.”

Beyond the plate as a teaching tool, is that it’s the whole enchilada when it comes to guidelines to eating healthier, “and managing weight through all life stages,” Blackledge said.

SUSAN LaHOUD can be reached at 508-236-0398 or at slahoud@thesunchronicle.com.

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