Healthy Eating with MyPlate

Build a Healthy Plate for National Nutrition Month and Beyond

Change doesn’t have to be difficult or overwhelming. In fact, when it comes to adopting healthy lifestyle habits, change can actually be fun and empowering!  Start small and just keep working at it. Little changes many times pay off big rewards.

Take your plate, for example. Is there any room for improvement there? Most likely, there is.  National Nutrition Month is a great time to commit to making better eating choices for you and your family. Fortunately, there are many wonderful resources that can help! MyPlate is a terrific guide to help get you started toward building a healthier plate.  Here are a few tips to makeover your plate/meals:

  • Make half your plate fruits and vegetables
  • Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk (dairy)
  • Make at least half your grains “whole” grains
  • Compare sodium, sugars and saturated fats in foods; choose those foods with lower numbers

Look to the MyPlate 10 Tips Nutrition Education Series for many more “how-tos” and healthy eating tips. As you begin to implement these strategies, be sure to check out the MyPlate Super Tracker, too. This is a great way to easily track the foods you eat, along with the physical activity you do, so you can see if you’re staying on-target with your goals.

Remember, when making your food choices…whether in a glass, bowl or plate—low-fat dairy makes mealtime complete! Check out our Dairy Lovers recipe section right now for some tasty and nutritious meal ideas that will help build a healthy plate!

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Healthy Eating 1Does Your Plate Match MyPlate?

It’s official.  The food pyramid has been replaced—with a plate! Just months after the new 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans were released in January this year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the First Lady unveiled the new food icon,MyPlate, to help consumers put those guidelines into action and make healthier food choices.

The shape may have shifted from a pyramid to a plate, but the message remains the same: dairy is an important part of every meal. It’s a fact: low-fat and fat-free milk, cheese and yogurt are nutrient-rich food choices, and whether they are in the glass or on the plate, the dairy group contributes essential nutrients to every meal.

The MyPlate tool is a great reminder of how important and easy it is to get a serving of low-fat or fat-free dairy at every meal, which is a good way to meet the recommended daily servings:

  • 3 cups for those 9 and older
  • 2 ½ cups for those ages 4-8
  • 2 cups for those ages 2-3

The DGA say that most Americans are lacking in 4 major nutrients:  vitamin D, calcium, potassium and dietary fiber. Lucky for you that milk happens to be the #1 source for three of those four—vitamin D, calcium and potassium! So, add one more serving of dairy each day to help fill in those nutrient gaps, and enjoy the delicious taste in the process!

To find out more about MyPlate and how it can help change the way you and your family eat, go to

2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans

Healthy Eating 2The 2010 Dietary Guidelines are out—so what are they and what does it mean for you?

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans are the cornerstone for all federal nutrition policy, the basis for all federal dietary guidance, and the science-based go-to resource for nutrition educators and health professionals. They are published every five years as the result of a joint effort between the US Department of Agriculture and the US Department of Health and Human Services, and provide advice for making food choices that promote good health, a healthy weight, and help prevent disease for healthy Americans ages 2 and over.

Because more than one-third of children and more than two-thirds of adults in the United States are overweight or obese, the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans places stronger emphasis on reducing calories and increasing physical activity.  The new guidelines focus on balancing calories with physical activity and encourage Americans to eat more nutrient-rich foods like fat-free and low-fat dairy foods, vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and seafood, and to consume less sodium and saturated and trans fats, added sugars and refined grains.


The new Guidelines maintains the 2005 recommendation that Americans ages nine years and older consume three servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy every day. Additionally, for children ages 4-8, the daily recommendation was increased from 2 to 2.5 servings. For children 2-3 years old, the dairy recommendation remained at 2 servings. According to theDietary Guidelines for Americans, current evidence shows intake of milk and milk products is linked to improved bone health, especially in children and adolescents. In addition, intake of milk and milk products is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and lower blood pressure in adults.

Smart changes that you can easily make to incorporate the Dietary Guidelines as part of your routine are:

  • Enjoy your food, but eat less
  • Avoid oversized portions
  • Make half your plate fruits and vegetables
  • Switch to fat-free or low-fat milk
  • Look for foods that are lower in sodium
  • Drink water instead of sugary drinks

Use MyPlate to help bring the Dietary Guidelines to life for you and your family.

Download a full copy of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines.

For more information, visit the U.S. Department of Health & Human Sciences or the United States Department of Agriculture Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion.

Healthy Foods Help Battle Childhood Obesity

Two recent studies show how important forming healthy food and beverage habits can be in children and adolescents.

One study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that what 5-year-old girls drink can predict their weight status for the remainder of childhood and into adolescence. Researchers at Pennsylvania State University found that those who drank more sweetened beverages, such as soda and sports drinks, at the age of 5 were more likely to be overweight over the following 10 years. Additionally, nutrient-rich beverages displaced the sodas and sports drinks. Girls who drank more milk and 100% fruit juice drank fewer nutritionally empty sweetened beverages. Serve your child plain or flavored milk; both have protein and eight essential vitamins and minerals.

Another study, in Public Health Nutrition, reinforces recent reports that suggest low consumption of nutrient-rich foods – specifically low-fat and fat-free dairy foods, fruits, vegetables and whole grains – can contribute to obesity among young adults. Try a new recipe that combines nutrient-rich foods for a tasty treat.

Fiorito LM, Marini M, Francis LA, Smicklas-Wright H, Birch LL. Beverage intake of girls at age 5 y predicts adiposity andweight status in childhood and adolescence. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2009; 94: 935-942.

Bradlee ML, Singer MR, Qureshi MM, Moore LL. Food group intake and central obesity among children and adolescents in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III). Public Health Nutrition Published online, Cambridge University Press; 2009.