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Nutrition 101

Healthy Eating Plate

The Healthy Eating Plate, created by nutrition experts at Harvard School of Public Health and editors at Harvard Health Publications, was designed to address deficiencies in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s MyPlate. The Healthy Eating Plate provides detailed guidance, in a simple format, to help people make the best eating choices.

Use The Healthy Eating Plate as a guide for creating healthy, balanced meals.

What a Portion Looks Like

Serving sizes can help you determine more appropriate portion size, and learning what the standard serving sizes are can help you better estimate how much food and how many calories you are eating. Portion distortion – massive servings of food we get at restaurants, and maybe even at home – is commonplace, and most of us probably don’t know what a true portion size looks like. Click here to learn more about portion sizes and for examples. Portion control is one of the keys to a healthier diet and a healthier lifestyle.  Eliminate the confusion and gain some control!

Nutrition and diet information is constantly evolving, but here are some nutrition basics to keep in mind.

 

Make most of your meal vegetables and fruits – ½ of your plate:
Aim for color and variety, and remember that potatoes don’t count as vegetables on the Healthy Eating Plate because of their negative impact on blood sugar.

Go for whole grains – ¼ of your plate:
Whole and intact grains—whole wheat, barley, wheat berries, quinoa, oats, brown rice, and foods made with them, such as whole wheat pasta—have a milder effect on blood sugar and insulin than white bread, white rice, and other refined grains. 

Protein power – ¼ of your plate:
Fish, chicken, beans, and nuts are all healthy, versatile protein sources—they can be mixed into salads, and pair well with vegetables on a plate. Limit red meat, and avoid processed meats such as bacon and sausage.

Healthy plant oils – in moderation:
Choose healthy vegetable oils like olive, canola, soy, corn, sunflower, peanut, and others, and avoid partially hydrogenated oils, which contain unhealthy trans fats. Remember that low-fat does not mean “healthy.”

Drink water, coffee, or tea:
Skip sugary drinks, limit milk and dairy products to one to two servings per day, and limit juice to a small glass per day.

Stay active:
The red figure running across the Healthy Eating Plate’s placemat is a reminder that staying active is also important in weight control.

The main message of the Healthy Eating Plate is to focus on diet quality.

  • The type of carbohydrate in the diet is more important than the amount of carbohydrate in the diet, because some sources of carbohydrate—like vegetables (other than potatoes), fruits, whole grains, and beans—are healthier than others.
  • The Healthy Eating Plate also advises consumers to avoid sugary beverages, a major source of calories—usually with little nutritional value—in the American diet.
  • The Healthy Eating Plate encourages consumers to use healthy oils, and it does not set a maximum on the percentage of calories people should get each day from healthy sources of fat. In this way, the Healthy Eating Plate recommends the opposite of the low-fat message promoted for decades by the USDA.

Click Here to learm about MacroNutrients and MicroNutrients and for more information on healthy eating.