The US Department of Agriculture has introduced a new guide to healthy diet and nutrition by a new icon; MyPlate. MyPlate is represented by a colorful dinner plate showing recommended proportion of grains, fruits, vegetables, and protein with diary on the side.

MyPlate replaces the food pyramid. It is a simple, visual and sends a clear message on proper nutrition. The new guide encourages consumers to eat half a plate of fruits and vegetables.

Making food choices for a healthier lifestyle can be easy using the 10 tips to a great plate:

1) Balance Calories

Find out how much calories you need a day from the calorie calculator. The calorie calculator identifies the amount of calories based on your weight, height, age and level of activity each day.  To maintain your weight, you should not eat more than the calories calculated.

2) Enjoy your food

Take time to enjoy your food. Eating too fast without paying attention can lead to eating too many calories. Pay more attention to fullness or hunger when you are eating.

3) Avoid oversize portion

Use a smaller plate or bowl at the buffet table. In this way, you take less even when the plate is full. Portion out the food before eating. When eating out, choose smaller portion, share a meal or eat only half and take home the other half.

4) Foods to eat more

Eat more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low fat foods. These are the food that are high in nutrient value and low in calories.

5) Make half your plate with fruits and vegetables

Choose from many colorful fruits and vegetables and aim to fill half of the plate with them. WHO ( World Health Organization) recommends eating 5 to 7 portions of fruits and vegetables a day for optimum health. Have fruits as a side, salad or dessert. However, try not to slather your vegetables with butter or lard.

6) Switch to fat-free or low fat milk

Choose low fat milk over full cream. Avoid saturated fat from animal meat and full cream milk. Low fat milk has just as much calcium and other essential nutrient. Better still, switch to soya milk instead.

7) Make half your grains whole grains

Choose brown rice over white rice, whole meal bread over white bread. Other sources of whole grains are barley, oats, buckwheat, quinoa, and millet.

8) Foods to eat less and avoid

Cut back on high fat, high sugar and high salt.  Refined and processed food such as cakes, cookies, sweetened drinks, ham, bacon and sausages should be avoided.

9) Compare sodium in food label

Check food-packaging label and choose lower sodium food. Select canned or packaged food with “low sodium” or “reduced salt” or “no salt added”.

10) Drink water instead of sugary drinks

Soda, energy drinks, sports drinks are major source of added sugar that are empty calories. Drink plain water instead or add a slice of lemon for added taste. Green tea is excellent source of antioxidants and helps to burn fats too.

Use the ideas from the list to balance your nutrition and calories. You can choose to eat more of the healthier food and less of the undesirable one.

What do you think of MyPlate as a guide for your nutrition selection? Share with me your thoughts in the comment box below.

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