Welcome to my new Healthy Eating Series! This series will highlight everything about nutrition including how to create a balanced diet; what are carbs, proteins, and fats and why are they important; and so much more! In the first post in the series, we’ll go over how to build a healthy plate. We’ll use the USDA’s MyPlate program as a guide (MyPlate | U.S. Department of Agriculture). Over the next few posts, we’ll dive deeper into each of the food groups and really highlight what makes each one unique and how our body uses it. But first, let’s get a general overview of what “eating healthy” looks like.
When we talk about what goes into building a healthy plate, I want you to think about your overall diet throughout the day (not just one specific meal). Take a look at the MyPlate model and think about what you know about each of the food groups. Fruits and vegetables take up half of the plate, with a bit more vegetables than fruits. Fruits and veggies are loaded with fiber, vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and water. They are the building blocks of eating a plant-forward diet. The other half of the plate has one section for proteins and one for grains. The majority of the proteins we eat should be lean and lower in fat. There are animal sources as well as plant sources, and both are important for our bodies. Grains come in many forms and are used to make a myriad of different types of foods. Try to choose whole grains for at least half of your daily grain options (don’t worry, we’ll more about whole grains in a future post!). MyPlate also has a small section for dairy. Not everyone consumes dairy products made from cow’s milk, so this category encompasses all dairy and non-dairy alternatives like almond, soy, and oat milk. For those who don’t use any of these items, just keep in mind that dairy provides carbs, proteins, and fats!
One food group that’s not shown on MyPlate is fats and oils. These should be used sparingly, but are still important for our bodies! Common foods that fall into this category are oils used for cooking, salad dressings, or buttery spreads. We’ll have a post on fats and what types you should focus on to give your body what it needs. Another type of food to think about is sweets. Most sweets can be considered under the grains section because they have a lot of carbs. But they actually have proteins and fats too. Some might also have a lot of fiber, vitamins, and minerals depending on what ingredients are used (like fruit-based desserts). But some foods like soda and candy bars are mostly sugar and should also make only very small appearances in our diets. We’ll go through all these types of foods and nutrients in more detail soon.
Please let me know if there are any specific nutrition topics you would want covered in this series in the future. I would love to write about what you guys want to know!
Stay safe, stay healthy!