|Choose MYPLATE to Improve Health for Life|
Cindy Anderson, Ph.D.
Most people know how important good nutrition is to their health. But most of us find it difficult to eat as healthfully as we think we should. The good news is that help is just a click away – at the USDA ChooseMyPlate website (www.choosemyplate.gov).
ChooseMyPlate is designed to provide information about healthy eating. The website makes it easy to find reliable sources of nutritional information that can make choosing healthy foods effortless. With it are resources to help increase one’s skills in recognizing good food choices that are part of a healthy lifestyle. There are recipes, tips and creative ideas for ensuring that your diet is a healthy one.
The website goes beyond providing general information with its interactive feature called SuperTracker. There, you can personalize your experience by creating your own profile, and getting a plan tailored just for you. The feature allows you to track your daily food intake and physical activities to see how they stack up (www.supertracker.usda.gov).
ChooseMyPlate also has tools for groups with unique nutritional needs and challenges. These include resources on the special nutritional needs during pregnancy: healthy weight gain; eating tips; and ways to make healthier choices for fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins, dairy and oils (www.choosemyplate.gov/mypyramidmoms/). There is information on healthy eating for breastfeeding mothers to assure that their infants receive good nutrition. This information is important because good nutrition begins during pregnancy when the first nutrition a developing baby gets is from its mother. Early nutrition is essential for the healthy development of infants and children and is key to future health as an adult. That is, what we eat today can affect our health in the future.
ChooseMyPlate also has great ideas and information about nutrition for young children (www.choosemyplate.gov/preschoolers.html). The web page has tips for getting kids to try new foods and for developing healthy eating habits and making plans for meals and snacks – all presented in a way tailored to the needs of this challenging age group. It has tools for parents to figure out if their child is growing and developing as expected; these include charts for growth and body mass index standard ranges.
ChooseMyPlate recently added a feature for young adults: the On Campus Tool Kit (www.choosemyplate.gov/MyPlateOnCampus/downloads/MyPlateOnCampusToolkit.pdf). These resources address the special challenges faced by many college students in their first real experience of making eating choices on their own and with a hectic schedule that limits their time and food choices. Addressing the “freshman 15” problem – the weight gain that many new college students experience - the ChooseMyPlate campus tool kit provides information about food choices based on dietary guidelines that promote healthy eating during the college years and beyond.
Good nutrition is key to healthy living. Making the best food choices for yourself and your future just got easier with ChooseMyPlate. Check out those resources and other useful sites at www.nutrition.gov/smart-nutrition-101/myplate-food-pyramid-resources