R.I.P. Food Guide Pyramid…What the New USDA MyPlate Icon Means for Your Grocery Cart

Remember how your mom always told you to eat your veggies? Well, she was right. The USDA and the First Lady announced a big change to the American diet Thursday. MyPlate was unveiled pushing a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and lean protein. How is this different from the Food Guide Pyramid? If the plate was a pyramid, fruits and vegetables would be on the bottom, rather than grains.  MyPlate encourages half your plate to be fruits and vegetables and the other half of your plate split between whole grains and protein.  These recommendations come with a side dish of dairy, whether it be milk, cheese, yogurt, or milk replacement.

So what does this mean for your grocery cart? It means you should be spending more time in your produce department. It means you have a great opportunity to teach your kids about new fruits and vegetables. It is also a great way to learn more about whole grains and incorporating new ones. It means you start paying attention to what kinds of dairy products you are buying. Fruits and veggies and dairy products are a little easier to shop for but the whole grain part of it can get confusing. Here are a few tips to help you fill up your cart with the new MyPlate method.

1. Color your cart with fresh produce. Plan your grocery list for the week to include a fruit with breakfast and a fruit and a vegetable at lunch and dinner. There are so many fruits and vegetables to choose from so keep it fresh by trying new things.

2. Utilize frozen and canned vegetables and fruits. Frozen and canned veggies are great to use when in a pinch. Choose canned fruit packed in 100% juice.

3.  Try a new grain each week. Quinoa, barley, long grain rice, millet, oats and others are whole grains. It is important to note high fiber and whole grains are not always the same thing. You need 25-35 grams of fiber a day and 48 grams or more of whole grains.

4. Look for whole grain breads, crackers, pastas, and cereals that have the following listed as the first ingredient: “whole wheat, whole rye, whole oats, rolled oats, oatmeal, whole grain corn, whole grain sorghum, whole grain barley, wild rice, brown rice, millet, bulgur, buckwheat, or quinoa.”

5. Be wary of  products that have “made with whole grains, seven grain, cracked wheat, stoneground, multigrain” label. Check the ingredient list. Sometimes minimal whole grains are used in these products.

6.  Choose fat-free or low-fat dairy products. Milk, yogurt, cheese, puddings, or milk based desserts are available in low-fat or fat-free versions. Children under 2 are encouraged to use the full fat products unless otherwise specified by their doctor. People with milk allergies or lactose intolerance can seek soy, almond or rice varieties or low-fat lactose free products.

7. Choose leaner cuts of meat and poultry. 

8. Include 8 ounces of cooked seafood a week. Exempted from this suggestion are vegetarians, young children, and those with seafood allergies.

9. Choose unsalted seeds or nuts for those watching sodium intake.






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Categories: Meal Planning, Shop Smart


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