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Basic Nutrition Information

Healthy Eating Plate

Healthy Eating PlateThe Healthy Eating Plate, created by nutrition experts at Harvard School of Public Health and editors at Harvard Health Publications, was designed to address deficiencies in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s MyPlate. The Healthy Eating Plate provides detailed guidance, in a simple format, to help people make the best eating choices.

Use The Healthy Eating Plate as a guide for creating healthy, balanced meals—whether served on a plate or packed in a lunch box. Put a copy on the refrigerator as a daily reminder to create healthy, balanced meals!

Make the most of your meal

  • Make most of your meal vegetables and fruits – ½ of your plate:

    • Aim for color and variety, and remember that potatoes don’t count as vegetables on the Healthy Eating Plate because of their negative impact on blood sugar.
  • Go for whole grains – ¼ of your plate:

    • Whole and intact grains—whole wheat, barley, wheat berries, quinoa, oats, brown rice, and foods made with them, such as whole wheat pasta—have a milder effect on blood sugar and insulin than white bread, white rice, and other refined grains.
  • Protein power – ¼ of your plate:

    • Fish, chicken, beans, and nuts are all healthy, versatile protein sources—they can be mixed into salads, and pair well with vegetables on a plate. Limit red meat, and avoid processed meats such as bacon and sausage.
  • Drink water, coffee, or tea:

    • Skip sugary drinks, limit milk and dairy products to one to two servings per day, and limit juice to a small glass per day.
  • Stay active:

    • The red figure running across the Healthy Eating Plate’s placemat is a reminder that staying active is also important in weight control.

The main message of the Healthy Eating Plate is to focus on diet quality.

  • The type of carbohydrate in the diet is more important than the amount of carbohydrate in the diet, because some sources of carbohydrate—like vegetables (other than potatoes), fruits, whole grains, and beans—are healthier than others.
  • The Healthy Eating Plate also advises consumers to avoid sugary beverages, a major source of calories—usually with little nutritional value—in the American diet.
  • The Healthy Eating Plate encourages consumers to use healthy oils, and it does not set a maximum on the percentage of calories people should get each day from healthy sources of fat. In this way, the Healthy Eating Plate recommends the opposite of the low-fat message promoted for decades by the USDA.

Your Questions Answered

Are the relative sizes of the Healthy Eating Plate sections based on calories or volume?

The Healthy Eating Plate does not define a certain number of calories or servings per day from each food group. The relative section sizes suggest approximate relative proportions of each of the food groups to include on a healthy plate. They are not based on specific calorie amounts, and they are not meant to prescribe a certain number of calories or servings per day, since individuals’ calorie and nutrient needs vary based on age, gender, body size, and level of activity.

What about alcohol? Isn’t alcohol supposed to be good for you in small amounts?

Alcohol in moderation is beneficial, and it’s illustrated in Harvard’s Healthy Eating Pyramid from 2005. But it’s not for everyone, which is why it is not included in the Healthy Eating Plate.

Credit: hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-eating-plate/

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To meet with a Registered Dietitian to discuss your nutrition needs and concerns, please call 915-2081.