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How families can benefit from the USDA’s switch to MyPlate

The USDA’s new MyPlate program is designed to make learning about and practicing healthy eating habits more appealing and more fun for all members of the family.

The USDA announced on June 2, 2011, that its classic food guide Pyramid is being replaced with the easy-to-understand and interactive MyPlate. Using a “familiar mealtime visual,” MyPlate is intended to remind Americans about balancing meals with the five food groups: fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and dairy. Based on the 2010 Dietary Guidelines, notable changes to the new guide are the inclusion of more fruits and vegetables, less grains, and the re-categorization of oils as providing “essential nutrients” but not appearing on the plate.

The result is a simple visual graphic of a balanced meal that families can use as a tool to make sure the portions of the major food groups are covered in meals. The simplicity of the graphic helps ALL family members, especially children, become more engaged in what and how much they should be eating. An interactive plate on the MyPlate website allows users to click on each section of the plate, which then displays a page for the selected food group with description, key message, and a list with pictures of single-serving sizes of some common foods in that group. These changes allow families to easily identify what a healthy, balanced meal looks like. Also featured is an Interactive Tools section that enables users to develop personalized plans and learn about specific healthy food choices. When all family members know the basics of healthy eating, mealtime can truly be a shared event.

MyPlate can also encourage family discussions about healthy foods, which can help develop good eating habits by all members of a family. For example, you can find out if there are any particular foods that family members like or dislike, and then find and offer alternatives in the specific food group of a disliked item. This will help eliminate the likelihood that someone will skip the essential healthy components of a meal. Get everyone excited and involved during mealtime! Fun meals shared as a family can promote healthy eating habits for children that they can carry into adulthood and can reinforce family bonding.

Keep in mind that MyPlate isn’t designed as strict rule to be followed—it’s perfectly fine to have dairy products directly on the plate instead of in a cup. Desserts, which are currently placed in the “Empty Calories” section, are okay when consumed in moderation in appropriate portions. You may still have to seek out other sources for how to prepare foods in healthy ways and to determine for the nutrition content of many food items. The information on MyPlate should be used as a tool to build a foundation of knowledge about food choices and help set healthy eating goals for your family. Families should take this change as an opportunity to get the entire family involved in healthy eating.

Fruits & Vegetables are important

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Add these resources to your arsenal of healthy-eating tools to help you get more fruits and vegetables in your diet.

Fruits & Veggies — More Matters™ is a health initiative led by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH), to increase daily consumption of fruits and vegetables. Visit the CDC and PBH websites for helpful tips, recipes, and interactive tools to help you increase your intake of fruits and vegetables.

Zinc: Some Facts

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Your body needs zinc for a number of essential functions, so make sure your diet includes foods that provide this nutrient.

Zinc, an essential trace element, is found in cells throughout the body and helps the immune system by fighting off bacteria and viruses. It is also involved in making proteins and DNA and helps wounds heal, among other functions. Oysters are the richest source of zinc, and other good sources include red meat, poultry, crab, lobsters, and fortified cereals. For more information, including the average daily recommended amounts, see the Office of Dietary Supplements’ Fact Sheet.

What is vitamin B12?

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Make sure you get enough vitamin B12 every day. It’s an essential nutrient that must be obtained from food; your body can’t make it.

Vitamin B12 is one of the eight B vitamins and is water-soluble. Our bodies do not store vitamin B12 so we must consume it daily. It is an important nutrient that helps make DNA, the genetic material in cells, and is essential for normal functioning of the brain and nervous system. Good food choices for vitamin B12 are beef liver, clams, fish, meat, poultry, eggs, and other dairy products. Read the Office of Dietary Supplement’s Vitamin B12 Fact Sheet for additional information.

Before taking your vitamins, do your research

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Dietary supplements may appear to be a healthier alternative to other medications, but they have their own risks and can interact with medications and one another. Proceed with caution.

The marketing and selling of dietary supplement products has become a 20-billion-plus industry. Consumers are bombarded with ads, and some people turn to them as “healthier” choices to prescription and over-the-counter medications. Consumers should seek products that have been properly manufactured and should be aware of potential interactions with medications. For other important tips, read the article “Prepared Patient: Vitamins & Supplements, Before You Dive In”.

Sources of dark green vegetables

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“Dark green vegetables” are an important component of a healthy diet, but what vegetables other than broccoli are in this class?

We’re supposed to eat a lot of dark green vegetables, but beyond broccoli, what are some good options? For starters, pick a salad that has romaine or dark green leafy lettuce. Bok choy, collard greens, kale, mustard greens, spinach, turnip greens, and watercress are all good dark green vegetables that contain lots of nutrients. Variety is the key to an overall healthy diet, so don’t forget to include some dark green vegetables in your daily diet.

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Food dyes and hyperactivity: Is there a link?

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In the debate over food dyes and hyperactivity in children, the FDA feels there is not enough evidence to support any action.

Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, and other dyes are artificial colorings allowed in foods in the U.S., yet there is a long-standing debate over whether food dyes contribute to hyperactivity in children. The Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Food Advisory Committee met the last week of March and determined that there is not enough evidence to support the link between food dyes and hyperactivity in children. For now, there will be no warning labels on food products containing dyes.

Choose a variety of foods for adequate calcium intake

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Your body needs calcium for optimal bone health and a number of other functions essential to daily life.

Your body needs calcium for optimal bone health and a number of other functions essential to daily life. Good food sources include: fat-free or low-fat milk, cheese, and yogurt; leafy greens such as spinach and kale; and broccoli, and pinto and red beans.  Many other foods such as high fiber cereal, soy beverages, and orange juice are fortified with added calcium.  Adding these foods to your diet will improve not only your calcium intake, but many other nutrients as well!

First Lady visit to Fort Jackson will highlight the impact of obesity and decreased physical activity on military recruitment

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First lady Michelle Obama will visit South Carolina this week to highlight the impact of childhood obesity and decreased physical activity on military recruitment.



First Lady Michelle Obama will visit South Carolina on January 27 for the first time since moving into the White House when she comes to Fort Jackson to highlight the impact of childhood obesity and decreased physical activity on military recruitment. Ms. Obama will spend a good chunk of the day at Fort Jackson, the Army’s largest training base, where she will discuss the “Let’s Move” campaign she launched two years ago with the aim of eliminating childhood obesity in a generation.

Click below to access the article.

Michelle Obama to visit Fort Jackson

Bad eating habits: Advice to help service members eat healthier

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Bad eating habits affect both civilians and military members.



Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System (DVIDShub.net) has an article on the obesity epidemic - which is a major problem in the United States according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The article reports that bad eating habits affect both civilians and military members and provides information on how service members can improve their eating habits.

Click below to access the article.

Bad eating habits: Advice to help service members eat healthier

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