Thursday, August 4, 2011

Myth: MyPlate doesn’t really tell me what to eat.

USDA MyPlate icon
Answer: Busted!

Although MyPlate doesn’t give us guidance on exact amounts to eat, it does serve as a visual reminder for what our plates should look like. The key message to remember with MyPlate is to make half your plate fruits and vegetables.

By following just this one tip, we can cut our calories and improve nutrition and health benefits without even trying.

The challenge may be how to eat more fruits and vegetables. The place to start is to have them readily available. You can’t eat them if you don’t have them. Always having fruits and vegetables on hand is the first step to making half your plate fruits and vegetables. Try these tips to get you started:

  • Buy fresh fruits and vegetables when they are in season and at their peak flavor.
  • Keep a supply of fruits that are dried, frozen and canned (in water or 100% juice), so that you always have some on hand.
  • Stock up on frozen vegetables for quick and easy cooking in the microwave.
  • Buy vegetables that are easy to prepare. Purchase pre-washed bags of salad greens and add baby carrots or grape tomatoes for a salad in minutes.
  • Consider convenience when shopping. Try packages of pre-cut fruit for a healthy snack in seconds. Choose packaged fruits that do not have added sugars.
  • Buy packages of vegetables such as baby carrots or celery sticks for quick snacks.
  • If you see it you will be more likely to eat it. Have a bowl of whole fruit on the table or counter. Keep bowls of cut-up fruit and vegetables in see-through containers in the refrigerator for quick snacks.

For more information on seasonal fruits and vegetables, order Seasonal and Simple: A Guide for Enjoying Fresh Fruits and Vegetables.

Additional nutrition and health information can be found on the MissouriFamilies website.

Contributor: Karen Sherbondy, MEd, RD, LD, Extension Associate, Nutrition and Exercise Physiology, University of Missouri Extension, 816-655-6227

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