My plate

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PHOENIX - Most of us probably remember learning about the food pyramid throughout our life.  If you’re like me, we learned about it but it never really affected my meal planning.

Well, several months ago, the powers that be replaced that food pyramid with what is now called “My Plate.”  It’s a visual representation of what a meal plate should consist of when it comes to the basic food groups.  And here’s the switch.  Essentially it teaches that half our plate should be fruits and veggies, ¼ grains, ¼ protein and with some added dairy on the side.

Now, if you ask me, the new My Plate is much easier to understand than the old pyramid.   Yes, it has some flaws.  It doesn’t address real portion size, or cooking method (fats!) or size of the plate.  But, it does make it quick and easy to assess the makeup of your plate and also subtly makes the point of “everything in moderation.” 

My Plate is also a great way to introduce kids to what they should be eating at every meal and that goes for the dreaded school lunch.   So, here’s my thought. 

Go to www.choosemyplate.gov and print out a copy of the My Plate graphic that you can easily find on the website.  Now, review it with the kids and start talking about all the different foods that fit in each category.  You can find cheat sheets online for grains, dairy, protein, etc.  Then, take the kids on a “scavenger hunt” through your pantry and have them take out some for each good group.  From there they can select 3 or so from each group that they like and would eat.  And, then you can talk about different combinations that could work for mealtime or school lunches.  I’ll bet you’ll be surprised at what they say they would like.  We all get caught in ruts with food!

If your kids are motivated to learn through interactive games online check out this website, www.fruitsandveggiesmatter.gov.  Go to interactive tools and select Analyze My Plate.  This is a fun activity that allows you to move different foods onto a plate to see the impact on calories.  It’s a great way to discuss food choices and calories for each meal.

Both these websites have a lot of information that can encourage you and your children to slowly start to eat a bit healthier – and the My Plate graphic is a great place to start.

Live and Learn!