Carol Berg Sloan, RD
Unless you are a registered dietitian, or just into food and nutrition news, you may not be aware of the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans and MyPlate that were recently launched by the US Department of Agriculture. These recommendations come out every five years, and finally the government has made a concept and graphic simple enough that perhaps consumers will sit up (and do sit-ups) and pay attention.
The focus this time is on balancing calories with physical activity to achieve a healthy weight. Some of the simple takeaway messages are:
• Avoid oversized portions.
• Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
• Switch to fat-free or low-fat (one-percent) milk.
• Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals, and choose the foods with lower numbers.
• Drink water instead of sugary drinks.
When speaking with clients, I focus on the MyPlate icon and the tip “Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.” It is easy to grasp, looks attractive on a meal plate and tastes good.
One small tip at a time can make a difference to the millions of overweight families who need to make changes now to prevent chronic illness down the road.
Here’s how to add more veggies and fruits to your plate:
• If eating out, ask for extra lettuce and tomato for your sandwich and save one half for when you are really hungry.
• Change it up and ask for coleslaw or fresh fruit instead of fries. By the way, sweet-potato fries aren’t much better than regular fries, for they soak up just as much oil!
• Summer is here, and so is fresh fruit. Large wedges of watermelon or a bunch of dark-red cherries are filling and delicious
• Dips such as hummus or salsa that need a scooper taste just as good with a celery stick, cucumber slice or pita triangle. Skip the chips!
• Leafy greens are available in every shape, size and price range. Have a BIG salad for dinner with your favorite extras such as beets, jicama, red onion, olives and summer squash. Use walnuts instead of croutons.
My mom is smart; she plants cherry tomatoes and basil in the spring and now has an abundance of both. Here’s how she’s using them up!
20 cherry tomatoes
4 ounces of mozzarella cut into 20 bite-size pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
A bunch of fresh basil leaves, torn
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and toss until thoroughly mixed.