Written by Becki Andrus
Yesterday, it was announced that the USDA food pyramid is being replaced with an image called “MyPlate” which shows a dinner plate divided out with the various food groups that are recommended. I would love to see people learn more about nutrition and health (which is why I started this blog), but I don’t think that the new image is the best way to help people understand what types of foods they should be eating.
Here is the old MyPyramid compared to the new MyPlate:
I like the fact that the nutrition recommendations are getting away from specific number of servings, and instead focusing on a well-balanced meal. Eating a variety of healthy foods is the best way to get the nutrition that you need.
But, the main problems with the Standard American Diet are still present…
- Most of the protein intake is focused around animal based foods in the meat and dairy food groups. Numerous research studies have linked animal protein consumption with serious health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer.
- Many Americans eat large portions of processed carbs and junk food (such as potato chips, white flour, sugar, soda, etc). People need to understand that whole grains are much better than refined grains.
- High amounts of fats and sugar are consumed in processed foods and other treats, it needs to be specified that those ingredients should be avoided as much as possible.
When you are considering these food portions, it is important to remember that many of the nutrition guidelines have the food industry pulling on the strings behind the scenes. Food production is a BIG business, and unfortunately the industry has the power to sway the nutrition recommendations. Just because meat and dairy are recommended, does not mean that they are the best source of nutrients for optimal health.
Here is a great resource that shows a healthy vegetarian food plan, which will provide you with all of the nutrients that you need to be healthy. In fact, focusing on these nutrient dense plant foods is one of the best ways to improve your health and prevent disease! This is what the vegetarian plate looks like:
Remember that eating foods in their most natural form is the best way to gain optimal nutrition from the food. When foods are cooked and processed, the nutrients are depleted and the enzymes are no longer available. Additionally, almost all of the store-bought processed foods have added preservatives, chemicals, sugar, sodium, and other unhealthy ingredients.
My personal eating plan is to eat an unlimited amount of fruits and vegetables every day. The next largest portion of food is beans and legumes, supplemented by whole grains, nuts and seeds. Eating this way provides my body with plenty of energy and I am never hungry, because there is no need to manage portion sizes! How many “diets” allow you to eat as much as you want, whenever you want?
Am I perfect with my eating plan? No! But, I try to eat the best that I can on most days. Sometimes I will stray from my typical eating to have foods that are not quite so healthy, but I always try to get back on track as soon as I can.
Everyone has the opportunity to change their eating habits by making small choices at each meal. Making incremental changes will help you to transition to a healthier eating plan, and you will notice a difference over time. The best way to start your transition is to choose to include more fruits and vegetables every day, and slowly cut back on your intake of meat, dairy, and processed foods.
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