Good nutrition is good health

Published 8:46 am Friday, February 16, 2018


Using MyPlate will help you get a grip on what you eat and why 

Good nutrition is good health. Today we will take a look at MyPlate and learn the basics of good nutrition. Celebrating nutrition is a big deal. Well it is to me, because nutrition is kind of my thing if you hadn’t noticed already. Good healthy food. Good quality food. You are what you eat. Food is what fuels you so obviously the saying is true. 

Email newsletter signup

Nutrition is a wonderful thing and this week we are going to celebrate it!

So I’m sure you’ve read my columns about this thing called MyPlate. If not, let me start from the beginning. MyPlate is the new way that we talk about the food groups. You may recall a different tool called the “Food Guide Pyramid,” then there was “My Pyramid.” They both were obviously shaped like a pyramid and helped you visualize the food groups and how much of each you were supposed to consume in a day. They worked well but have since been upgraded to MyPlate. This is better because it is a picture of a plate with sections for each food group.

Now that you’ve been introduced to the idea of MyPlate, why not get better acquainted? There are lots of things I’d like you to know about good nutrition. Today, I’m going to break it down in a very simple way so you can gain at least one helpful fact that relates to each food group. 

Take a look at that plate. The first thing that jumps out to me is half the plate is covered with fruits and vegetables. Ideally, when you fix your plate, this is what it should look like. Believe it or not, one plate is a serving. That’s all you need. If your plate has half fruits and veggies on it at each meal, then you’re one step ahead of the game.

 Looking even further at the fruits and vegetables side of the plate, there is one thing I want you to remember about both food groups: Eat a variety. Eat all sorts of different fruits and vegetables because some have different nutrients in them than others. In order to get all the health benefits, you have to eat all types — basically eat the rainbow. Red and blue foods such as bell peppers, berries and tomatoes are rich in antioxidants. Orange and yellow foods are rich in vitamin C among other things. Green veggies have calcium and fiber. Eat them all and you get all those nutrients. 

Next up, why don’t we “lean in” with protein. Always choose lean cuts of meat. Chicken, beef, pork — all of these are perfectly fine get healthy servings of lean protein. Don’t forget about your plant based protein — beans, legumes, nuts and seeds are packed with protein as well. Also try and get some more fish in your diet. Omega-3 fatty acids are pretty great if you want to keep your sanity long into old age. Another way to get protein is through dairy products which we will get to that food group in a minute.

Moving on around the plate we have our grains. Meat and grains are no problem for us in America. We tend to eat way more of these two food groups than we really need. You’ll be excited to know that you can cover a slightly larger portion of your plate with grains than protein. When it comes to the grains group, try and make all your grain options whole. Whole grain products are easy to find which make it even easier to make the switch. Switching white bread to whole grain bread, white rice to brown rice and white pasta to whole wheat pasta are just a few of my favorite examples. Whole grains are good for your heart and have fiber which help you feel fuller longer. Diabetics can handle whole grains better because they help maintain healthy blood sugar levels.

Last but not least we have the delicious dairy group. Low-fat dairy is where it’s at. One-percent milk, cheese and yogurt are great sources of calcium and vitamin D. Plain non-fat Greek yogurt is a protein packed option that can serve as a smoothie starter, dipping sauce, or healthy snack. Put some fruit or honey on it and you’ve got a healthy cheesecake fake-out dessert. 

Briefly back to milk. I know that skim milk is the lowest fat option of actual dairy milk but I’m not going to tell you to jump from whole milk to skim overnight. Take baby steps. Try 2-percent milk for a while, then maybe switch to 1-percent milk. Personally, I’m a 1-percent or almond milk kind of girl. I was raised on 2 percent and have made the switch once I got older. If you’re lactose intolerant, try soy, almond, coconut, cashew or lactose free milk products. There are so many options out there — I’m sure you can find something that works best for you and your family.

I know we covered a lot of material here with what you should include in your diet. There’s one thing I left out. Physical activity is a huge part of being healthy. Being active is just as important as eating good foods. When it comes to being healthy, having a healthy lifestyle and losing weight, it all comes down to balance. If you make healthy food choices and pair that with getting more activity in your daily routine, everything will fall into place. Exercise helps you sleep better, move easier and reduces stress. Try getting 30-60 minutes of physical activity a day. You’ll be glad you did.

Now that you’ve got the basics, you can celebrate good nutrition with some healthy lifestyle changes. Eat the rainbow, all the fruits and veggies. Choose lean protein options and don’t forget about plant based protein. Go for whole grain. Don’t forget about that low fat dairy. Last but not least, move your body. Make these small changes and be consistent. We are all on the journey to good health together. Keep on truckin’.

If you have questions or comments about the column, or if you’d like more information feel free to contact me by email at