Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Say Goodbye to the Food Pyramid; Say Hello to MyPlate!

Eat to Learn, Learn to Eat

You may not know, but MyPlate replaced MyPyramid this past June as the USDA’s new food icon. First Lady Michelle Obama, whose Let’s Move campaign is aimed at fighting obesity, helped unveil the new design. As you may notice from the picture, it’s an easy to understand tool that shows how to build a healthy meal based on the 2010 Dietary Guidelines. It utilizes the plate to show 5 components of a healthy meal - fruits, vegetables, grains, protein and dairy, in sizes proportional to how much you should eat in each meal. We all know that what we eat matters and this is a great tool to help make healthy choices. Check out this short video for a brief overview of MyPlate or visit http://www.choosemyplate.gov/ for more information. Some key points to remember from MyPlate are to make at least half your grains whole grains, make half your plate fruits and vegetables, get calcium rich foods, go lean with protein, focus on fruits and vary your veggies. Other key points to remember are to find your balance between food and physical activity as well as keep your food safe!
Excited to learn about MyPlate!
The past couple weeks in the Edible Teaching Kitchen at Green Charter, our 3rd and 4th graders have been learning more about the new MyPlate icon. They’ve written poems, created MyPlate collages, and even made a MyPlate snack of crackers, peppers, pears, hummus and almond milk. Not only are these children learning about MyPlate and healthy habits in the Teaching Kitchen, but these lessons translate into our Cafeteria where a variety of options are offered in accordance with the new MyPlate recommendations. As I’ve noted before, all of the Firstline School Cafeteria’s offer a daily salad bar with fresh vegetables and fruits. More than half of the grains served during mealtimes are whole grains, which include brown rice and whole-wheat dinner rolls. We’ve cut out red meats, offering a variety of leaner protein options in place such as chicken, turkey, and a variety of bean dishes. We believe that through the integration of education, such as the MyPlate lessons, and real life application of these principles in the classroom and cafeteria, we can change our children’s habits. By creating demand from the ground up, our school-based food and snack programs now incorporate our food values of “wholesome, nutritious and delicious” as well as the USDA recommendations from MyPlate – fueling our children in the mind, body and spirit towards healthy lifestyles.
The MyPlate Snack
Placing foods in right food groups

MyPlate Bulletin Board in Green Charter Cafeteria
 In other news, our first set of Tulane University Dietetic Interns started yesterday. They’ll be with us for the rest of the week and are working on some really exciting projects. To enhance our cafeteria environment, they are working on menu cards for each table, allowing the children to have a sneak-peak for the next day’s menu. They are also assisting in some studies, collecting data in the cafeteria as well as creating newsletters about MyPlate. Make sure to check back next week to find out more!

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