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Dietitians Dish: Get your plate in shape

By By Jami Martin
March 13, 2012 at midnight
Updated March 12, 2012 at 10:13 p.m.

Jami Martin

Each March, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, formerly known as the American Dietetic Association, selects a theme for National Nutrition Month. This year's theme is "Get Your Plate in Shape."

So, what does it mean to Get your Plate in Shape, and how do you go about making changes?

Get Your Plate in Shape encourages the following:•  Make half your plate with fruits and vegetables.

•  Make at least half your grains whole.

•  Switch to fat-free or low-fat dairy.

•  Vary your protein choices - include seafood twice a week.

•  Cut back on sodium and empty calories from solid fats and added sugar.

•  Enjoy your foods, but eat less.

•  Be physically active.

In order to create change, it is important to take a step back and look at the overall picture of your food choices. We all have something that needs to be tweaked from time to time. What better way to do that than to utilize tools that coordinate the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans?

The United States Department of Agriculture provides resources and tools on ChooseMyPlate.gov to help you plan healthy meals, set goals and re-evaluate your progress. The website also offers education resources and materials for individuals, parents, educators and professionals to promote overall health worth checking out.

Here are a few exciting resources to get your plate in shape.

MyPlate from ChooseMyPlate.gov is available to assist with getting your plate in shape. MyPlate is a visual tool for planning a well balanced meal by incorporating grains, fruits, vegetables, protein and dairy. It is a plate, which is divided into four unequal sections plus a dairy serving. One half of the plate is fruit and vegetables and the other is protein and grain. The fruit and protein sections are represented by slightly smaller sections. Consider using smaller plates, bowls and glasses to assist with portion control.

A second resource available at ChooseMyPlate.gov is an interactive tool called SuperTracker. SuperTracker is used for keeping your food, activity, weight and personal journals.

It allows you to create a personal profile and the program estimates your calorie needs based on height, weight, age, gender and activity level. It provides a goal for the number of servings from each food group you need for a well-balanced diet and graphs your intake as it is recorded.

You also have an opportunity to set no more than five goals at a time; for example, it might be lose weight or to increase fruits or whole grains, etc. A great benefit it provides is being able to create reports and analyze your progress from your food intake, activity, weight and personal journals to improve your success after a series of small changes have been made.

Studies have shown that people who keep a food journal are more likely to lose weight and keep it off because it not only gives you an overall picture, but assists you with problem solving along the way.

Enjoy the new tools in your tools box and let's get in shape.

Jami Martin is a registered and licensed dietitian. Send questions or comments to dietitians@vicad.com.

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