Out With The Old, In With The New

This Letter to the Editor was submitted by Kelsay Peterson, Dining Services Nutrition Assistant at Concordia College.

In June 2011, First Lady Michelle Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack unveiled the MyPlate icon, replacing the previous MyPyramid.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, “MyPlate is part of a larger communication initiative based on the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans to help consumers make better food choices.”

The design encourages Americans to eat healthily by illustrating the five food groups using a familiar visual of a place setting.

The MyPlate icon promotes fruits and vegetables, which cover half the circle. Grains occupy an additional quarter, as do proteins such as meat, fish and poultry. A glass of milk rests to the side, and desserts have been removed. MyPlate also includes 10 tips for a great plate:

1. Balance calories.

Graphic from myplate.gov.

2. Enjoy your food but eat less.

3. Avoid oversized portions.

4. Foods to eat more often

5. Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.

6. Switch to fat-free or low fat (1%) milk.

7. Make half your grains whole grains.

8. Foods to eat less often

9. Compare sodium in foods.

10. Drink water instead of sugary drinks

Dining Services offers all of the tools and resources to maintain a healthy lifestyle for students away from home. The Mission Nutrition labeling system helps students make conscious decisions about their food choices. Through this system, students can gauge an item’s level of fat, calories, sodium and fiber in one glance.

Each meal in Anderson Commons incorporates a variety of food options from each segment of MyPlate.  The ten different stations available in Anderson Commons make it possible for students to create a well-balanced meal full of healthful choices and variety.  Students can implement the MyPlate icon and use the 10 tips as a starting point for a healthier tomorrow.

NetNutrition is also an important tool allowing students to view full nutritional labels and ingredients for each item served in Anderson Commons. Students can even build their own meal, and the program will calculate the total nutrition of the entire meal.

The first official USDA food guide was published in 1916 and has been updated throughout the years. Prior to MyPlate, the latest food guide was the MyPyramid icon, which emphasized not only healthy eating but also physical activity.

While MyPyramid provided more educational resources for the general public, many became overwhelmed. USDA officials say the pyramid was tired out, overly complex and tried to communicate too many different nutrition facts at once. With hopes of simplifying the message of a well-balanced diet to the public, MyPlate was developed.

Students on a meal plan with nutrition or food allergy concerns can meet with a registered dietitian at any time. Contact diningservices@cord.edu to set up an appointment.

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