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Getting Started with Healthy Eating

Get Started

Start with Small Changes

Small changes can add up for a healthy lifestyle. Choose one change to focus on at a time and have the whole family make the change together! Children learn by watching their role models - and that's you! For example, you may decide to make sure there is a vegetable at evening meals for a week. Once you have your first change down, it's time to celebrate! Do a happy dance or high-five a friend. Then, add another change to your next week. Before you know it, you have found the healthy eating style that works for you and your family.

What is MyPlate?

MyPlate is your plate! MyPlate is an easy way to see the five food groups that build a healthy diet and can help you find a healthy eating style that works for you and your family. MyPlate can be a good place to start seeing where healthy changes could be made. But remember - focus on one change at a time!

MyPlate: Your Five Food Groups

The five food groups that make up MyPlate are Vegetables, Fruits, Grains, Proteins, and Dairy.

Vegetables

Any whole vegetable or 100% vegetable juice counts on MyPlate! Choose veggies that are fresh, frozen, or canned. Vegetables provide important nutrients that are important for your health.

Quick Tip: If you limit your salt intake – look for low sodium canned vegetables instead, or drain and rinse the vegetables to remove some of the sodium before cooking.

All vegetables are great choices – make some of your choices even better by choosing dark green, red, and orange veggies! Think kale, spinach, red bell peppers, and carrots to get more dark green, red, and orange in your week.

Fruits

Is fruit the perfect sweet addition to any meal or snack? We think so! What counts as a fruit on MyPlate? Fruits that are fresh, canned, frozen, dried, or 100% fruit juice are all good choices. Choose fresh and whole fruits when you can – like a whole banana, apple, or handful of grapes. Stick with canned fruits that have 100% fruit juice or light syrup instead of heavy syrups. We recommend limiting 100% fruit juice to 1 cup (8 ounces) per day.

Grains

Any food made from cereal grains like wheat, oats, and barley falls into this food group. Common grain foods include bread, pasta, crackers, rice, cereal, and tortillas! Grains are a great source of carbohydrates, which our body uses for energy. Aim to choose whole grain sources at least half of the time. These foods not only pack great flavor, but great nutrition! They contain important nutrients and fiber for good health. What are your top grain picks? We love corn tortillas, whole wheat bread, oatmeal, brown rice, and quinoa!

Proteins

Protein foods include both meat and vegetable-based choices! Meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, nuts & seeds, and beans & peas all contain protein and other nutrition for good health. Lean or lower-fat options are more heart healthy, such as lean or extra-lean ground beef, skinless chicken, unsalted nuts, or beans.

Dairy and Substitutes

Milk and many foods made from milk are part of the dairy group. Dairy products, such as milk, yogurt, and cheese, contain many nutrients, such as protein and calcium, for good health. Calcium is important for strong bones and teeth! Soymilk is also part of the Dairy group if it is fortified with calcium (has calcium added). Aim to choose more low fat and fat-free choices! Dairy is in the blue circle to the side of MyPlate. Two to three servings per day (1 serving = 8 ounce glass of milk) can help most of us meet our daily calcium needs!

Better Beverages: They Learn from Watching You!

“I learned about how much sugar was in some of my family’s favorite drinks and was shocked! We have started cutting back and drinking more water instead. We still drink those old favorites sometimes, but now only as a treat instead of every day.”

There are so many choices when it comes to drinks and beverages! It really can be tough to know which ones are the best options for our families. Many drinks have added sugar, fat, or salt. Balance your beverage choices with activity and healthy foods for a lifestyle that works for you! Get the kids involved, too. They can help make healthy choices at home!

Best Choices: Yes! Offer and choose these drinks most often to stay hydrated.

  • Water (plain or seltzer)
  • Unsweetened tea or coffee (limit coffee to 4 cups per day or less)
  • 1% or fat-free milk (3 cups per day)

Choose Less Often: Slow Down! These beverages are not as good for you.

  • Diet Soft Drinks or Sodas
  • Flavored waters
  • 100% juice (limit to 1 cup per day)

Choose Rarely: Limit these to rare occasions! These drinks have more added sugars, fats, or alcohol.

  • Soft Drinks or Sodas
  • Energy or Sports Drinks
  • Fruit Flavored Drinks
  • Sweetened Coffee Drinks
  • Milkshakes or Smoothies
  • Alcoholic Beverages
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