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USDA offers tips to make a Great Plate

July 16, 2011
Submitted by Ryan Wille, community health educator for HealthLink Littauer , For The Leader Herald

In June, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the creation of MyPlate. MyPlate will replace the food pyramid, which provided the guidelines for a healthy diet for the past 20 years. Many people found the food pyramid hard to understand and the USDA felt it was time for a change. MyPlate has four colored sections representing fruits, vegetables, grains and proteins. Next to the plate is a smaller circle representing dairy products. The USDA believes that the new design is much simpler and will assist people in adapting healthy eating habits.

The USDA also has provided the following 10 Tips to a Great Plate.

1) Balance calories: The first step in managing your weight is to understand how many calories you need in a day. can assist people in determining calorie goals. Physical activity also helps to balance calories.

Article Photos

This undated photo shows a plate from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate website,

Photo submitted

2) Enjoy your food, but eat less: Take the time to fully enjoy your food. Eating too fast may lead to consuming too many calories. Pay attention to hunger cues before, during and after meals.

3) Avoid oversized portions: Portion out foods before you eat. Use smaller plates, bowls and glasses.

4) Foods to eat more often: Eat more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat dairy products. These foods have the necessary nutrients for a healthy diet and should be the basis for meals and snacks.

5) Make half of your plate fruits and vegetables: Choose red, orange, and dark-green vegetables like tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and broccoli, along with other vegetables. Add fruit to meals as part of main dishes, side dishes or desserts.

6) Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1 percent) milk: These products have the same amount of calcium and other essential nutrients as whole milk, but fewer calories and less saturated fat.

7) Make half of your grains whole grains: To eat more whole grains, substitute a whole-grain product for a refined product. For example, eating whole-grain bread instead of white bread or brown rice instead of white rice.

8) Foods to eat less often: Cut back on foods that are high in solid fats, added sugars, and salt. This includes cakes, cookies, ice cream, candies, sweetened drinks, pizza and fatty meals like ribs, sausages, bacon, and hot dogs. Use these foods as occasional treats, not everyday foods.

9) Compare sodium in foods: Use the Nutrition Facts labels to choose lower sodium versions of foods like soup, bread and frozen meals. Select canned foods labeled "low sodium," "reduced sodium," or "no salt added."

10) Drink water instead of sugary drinks: Cut calories by drinking water or unsweetened drinks. Soda, energy drinks and sports drinks contain added sugars and calories.

More information on MyPlate can be found at

For more information, contact your health care provider, Littauer's Outpatient Nutritional Counseling at 773-5413 or HealthLink Littauer at 736-1120. People also can e-mail HealthLink at, visit its website at, or visit its wellness center at 213 Harrison St. Ext. in Johnstown, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.



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