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MyPlate: Make It Your Plate

In 2010, the USDA replaced the familiar food pyramid with MyPlate, with the goal of making it easier to understand what to eat as well as how much to eat. These guidelines from Giant Eagle® registered dietitians can help you make MyPlate your plate.
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It takes roughly 20 minutes after you start eating for satiety signals to reach your brain.

1. Balance Calories

  • Find out how many calories you need for a day as a first step in managing your weight.
  • Visit www.ChooseMyPlate.gov to determine your calorie level.
  • Being physically active also helps you balance calories. Download our Food and Activity Tracker to get started on your healthy eating and activity plan.

2. Enjoy Your Food, But Eat Less

  • Eating too fast or when your attention is elsewhere may lead to eating too many calories. Pay attention to hunger and fullness cues before, during and after meals.
  • It takes roughly 20 minutes after you start eating for satiety signals to reach your brain, so slow your pace and let your system catch up.
  • Try using your non-dominant hand to eat, make an effort to put your fork down after each bite, or take advantage of the time to converse with your family.

3. Avoid Oversized Portions

  • You’re more likely to serve yourself the right portion of food if you use a smaller plate, bowl and glass. When you’re hungry, a full plate looks great, so serve yourself the right portions on a small plate to set yourself up for success.
  • Also, portion out your foods before you eat. In a restaurant, choose a half or smaller portion; share your dish; or ask for a take-home box when you order and box up half of your plate before you start eating. You’ll then have lunch for the next day.

4. Eat These Foods More Often

5. Fill Half of Your with Plate Fruits and Veggies

  • Choose red, orange, and dark green vegetables like tomatoes, sweet potatoes and broccoli.
  • Or make the entire half of your plate non-starchy vegetables and have fruit as a side dish or dessert — that will add only about 25 calories. If you're going to eat a little more of something, make it veggies.
  • Download our Eating by Color Chart for more ideas on how to incorporate vitamin-rich fruits and vegetables into your diet.

6. Switch to Fat-Free or Low-Fat (1%) Milk

  • They have the same amount of calcium and other essential nutrients as whole milk, but fewer calories and less saturated fat.
  • Don't drink dairy milk? Giant Eagle carries a variety of soy milks. Choose an unsweetened one with added calcium and vitamin D.

7. Make Half Your Grains Whole Grains

  • Substitute whole-grain products for refined products. Eat whole-wheat bread instead of white bread and brown rice instead of white rice.
  • Just because it’s brown, it isn’t necessarily whole grain – check the ingredient list! At least half of your grains should be whole, so you don't have to replace all of them.

8. Eat These Foods Less Often

  • Cut back on foods high in solid fats, added sugars and salt, such as cake, cookies, ice cream, candy, sweetened drinks, pizza, and fatty meats like ribs, sausages, bacon and hot dogs. Eat these foods only occasionally, not every day.

9. Compare Sodium in Foods

  • Check the Nutrition Facts label to choose lower-sodium version of foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals. Look at the %DV column on the food label and choose items that are less than 20%.
  • Select canned foods labeled low-sodium, reduced-sodium or no salt added.

10. Drink More Water 

  • Cut calories by drinking water or unsweetened beverages. Water is essential for proper metabolism, and soda, energy drinks, and sports drinks are a major source of sugar and calories.
  • Thirst is often mistaken for hunger, so stay hydrated to help with your weight management goals.

MyPlate Meal Ideas

  • Breakfast: Cereal (grain) with banana (fruit) and low-fat milk (dairy). You’ll still have a veggie and protein to save for a snack. Try peanut butter and celery sticks (protein and veggie), hummus and carrot sticks (protein and veggie), or a hard-cooked egg and a small salad (protein and veggie).
  • Breakfast (or any meal): Omelet (eggs as the protein) with chopped veggies and a side of orange juice (vegetables and fruit). Add bread and low-fat milk or cheese in the omelet. 
  • Lunch or Dinner: Grilled chicken (protein), whole-grain roll, spinach and tomato salad, and fresh strawberries. (Increase the salad portion and save the berries for later.) Turn the chicken into chicken salad and make a sandwich with whole-grain bread. Add low-fat milk, cheese or yogurt with the berries.
  • Lunch or Dinner: Baked or oven-fried fish (protein), rice pilaf (some brown rice adds a whole grain), grilled fresh tomatoes (veggie), and either another veggie or fruit for dessert. Add mozzarella cheese (dairy) to the grilled tomatoes or drink a glass of low-fat milk.

Need help understanding what variations you can make or how to make MyPlate work for your daily plan? E-mail us at nutrition@gianteagle.com.

Brought to you by the Registered Dietitians at Giant Eagle and Market District®

Nutritional values are based on data from the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference. Actual nutritional values may vary due to preparation techniques, variations related to suppliers, regional and seasonal differences, or rounding.