Healthy Eating with MyPlate

Build a Healthy Plate for National Nutrition Month and Beyond

Change doesn’t have to be difficult or overwhelming. In fact, when it comes to adopting healthy lifestyle habits, change can actually be fun and empowering!  Start small and just keep working at it. Little changes many times pay off big rewards.

Take your plate, for example. Is there any room for improvement there? Most likely, there is. National Nutrition Month is a great time to commit to making better eating choices for you and your family. Fortunately, there are many wonderful resources that can help! MyPlate is a terrific guide to help get you started toward building a healthier plate.  Here are a few tips to makeover your plate/meals:

  • Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
  • Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk (dairy.
  • Make at least half your grains “whole” grains.
  • Compare sodium, sugars and saturated fats in foods; choose those foods with lower numbers.

Look to theMyPlate10 Tips Nutrition Education Series for many more “how-tos” and healthy eating tips. As you begin to implement these strategies, be sure to check out theMyPlate Super Tracker, too. This is a great way to easily track the foods you eat, along with the physical activity you do, so you can see if you’re staying on-target with your goals.

Remember, when making your food choices...whether in a glass, bowl or plate—low-fat dairy makes mealtime complete! Check out our Dairy Lovers recipe section right now for some tasty and nutritious meal ideas that will help build a healthy plate!

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Does Your Plate Match MyPlate?

In order to make it easier to understand how much and what we should be eating, the U.S. Department of Agriculture came up with MyPlate. This icon helps consumers put all the dietary guidelines found in the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans into a relatable and easier way to help make healthy choices.

Dairy is an important part of a healthy diet, that’s why it’s on the plate! It’s a fact: low-fat and fat-free milk, cheese and yogurt are full of essential vitamins and minerals needed to help you live a healthy life, and whether they are in the glass or on the plate, the dairy group contributes essential nutrients to every meal.

The MyPlate tool is a great reminder of how important and easy it is to get a serving of low-fat or fat-free dairy at every meal, which is a good way to meet the recommended daily servings:

  • 3 cups for those 9 and older
  • 2 1/2 cups for those ages 4-8
  • 2 cups for those ages 2-3

Whether flavored or white, milk is the number one food source of nine essential nutrients for children. Some of these nutrients found in milk (calcium, potassium, and vitamin D) are called nutrients of concerns in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and children are not getting enough of in their diets. Add an extra serving of dairy a day to help prevent those nutrient gaps!

To find out more about MyPlate and how it can help change the way you and your family eat, go to

2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans

What does the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans mean for you?

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans are the cornerstone for all federal nutrition policy, the basis for all federal dietary guidance, and the science-based go-to resource for nutrition educators and health professionals. They are published every five years as the result of a joint effort between the US Department of Agriculture and the US Department of Health and Human Services, and provide advice for making food choices that promote good health, a healthy weight, and help prevent disease for healthy Americans ages 2 and over.

Because more than one-third of children and more than two-thirds of adults in the United States are overweight or obese, the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans places stronger emphasis on reducing calories and increasing physical activity.  The new guidelines focus on balancing calories with physical activity and encourage Americans to eat more nutrient-rich foods like fat-free and low-fat dairy foods, vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and seafood, and to consume less sodium and saturated and trans fats, added sugars and refined grains.

The 2015 Guidelines maintains the recommendation that Americans ages nine years and older consume three servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy every day. Children ages 4-8 are recommended to have 2 ½ servings of dairy a day. For children 2-3 years old, the dairy recommendation remains at 2 servings. The current Dietary Guidelines for Americans encourages low-fat and fat-free dairy foods, such as milk, cheese and yogurt, as a part of healthy eating styles that have been linked to health benefits, such as reduced risk of CVD and type 2 diabetes. Proper consumption of dairy foods have also been linked to improved bone health in children and adolescents.

Smart changes that you can easily make to incorporate the Dietary Guidelines as part of your routine are:

  • Enjoy your food, but eat less
  • Avoid oversized portions
  • Make half your plate fruits and vegetables
  • Switch to fat-free or low-fat milk
  • Look for foods that are lower in sodium
  • Drink water instead of sugary drinks

Use MyPlate to help bring the Dietary Guidelines to life for you and your family. Download a full copy of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines.

For more information, visit the U.S. Department of Health & Human Sciences or the United States Department of Agriculture Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion.

Healthy Food and Dairy Consumption During Childhood Predicts Lower Adiposity and Waist Circumference in Later Adolescence

Two recent studies show how important forming healthy food and beverage habits can be in children and adolescents.

A study published by Boston University School of Medicine in 2014, followed 103 non-Hispanic white boys and girls from childhood to later adolescence and monitored their eating habits and intakes for 12 years. Body Mass Index, waist circumference and four skinfolds were measured yearly on all of the children. Upon conclusion of the study, the researchers found that children who did not regularly have milk and milk products in their diet had 7.4% more body fat in later adolescence than those who regularly had milk and milk products. The same trends were seen with fruit and vegetable intakes in children. Those that had higher fruit and vegetable intakes as children had 8.0 cm smaller waist circumference at ages 15-17 than those who did not regularly have fruits and vegetables as children.

Another study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at milk consumption of children and the long term risk and occurrence of overweight and obesity. The study concluded that those who had the highest consumption of dairy products were 38% less likely to have childhood overweight/obesity. They also found that with each serving/day increment in dairy consumption, body fat percentage was reduced by.65% and the risk of being overweight or obese was 13% lower than those with little no dairy consumption.

Hasnain, Syed Ridda, et al. "Beverage intake in early childhood and change in body fat from preschool to adolescence." Childhood obesity 10.1 (2014): 42-49.

Lu, L., Xun, P., Wan, Y., He, K., & Cai, W. (2016). Long-term association between dairy consumption and risk of childhood obesity: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. European journal of clinical nutrition, 70(4), 414-424.