Thursday, March 1, 2012

March is Nutriton Month: Revamp your Plate!

Hi Sustainability fans, Kat here!
Did you know that March is National Nutrition Month? Even though I consider myself to be pretty "nutritionally conscious" person, this month I am taking extra steps to make sure that that I am eating as healthy as possible.You should try it too! 

I know that pretty much everyone has heard of, or is familiar with the concept of the food pyramid. It was something that was taught to me every year in school since the third grade. As a part of a healthy diet, you are supposed to get x number of fruits and vegetables. And while everyone can picture this triangular shaped food guide in their head, is it really a helpful or realistic way to remember to incorporate healthy and nutritious foods in our diets? Even I am the first to admit, that some days I don't get the daily recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables. I think I can speak for many college students when I say, with busy schedules and limited amounts of times to chose meals, we often eat what is convenient and fast. Having time to balance school, work, and clubs is hard enough without trying to envision this pyramid shaped food guideline every time you grab something to eat.

This is why I am so happy about the USDA's new nutritional guide. Instead of the food pyramid, the new shape of nutrition is a plate. How convenient! Now when building your plate at the Dining Halls, you can envision what a healthy, a nutritionally balanced plate should be composed of! When constructing your plate, it should be comprised of these proportions; a quarter of your plate devoted to fresh cut fruit or one piece of fruit. The next quarter of your plate should be filled with seasonal or raw cut vegetables. The third quarter should contain lean meats, nuts, or beans. And then the final touches, should include a quarter of the plate filled with whole grains, such as pasta or brown rice. To complete your meal, add a one cup serving one low fat dairy to make a complete and well balanced meal! The end result should look like the picture shown here, healthy and well balanced. To find out more about this food guide check out:

Healthy Eating- Ithaca Dining Services

As a part of Sodexo's For Your Health campaign, new nutrition icons have been added to meal selections to help distinguish what food group each selection is from. Are you a vegetarian or going meatless for Meatless Monday or religious reasons? Look for the vegetarian symbol. Trying to find a nutritious meal options that follows the Myplate food guidelines? Look for a well balanced symbol! These new symbols strive to promote one of Sodexo's fourteen commitments, to "provide and promote varied and balanced food options". To find more about this commitment or all fourteen, check out Sodexo's a Better Tomorrow Starts Today website:

Here are some of my favorite tips that I use to eat healthy in the dining halls:
  • Eat colors: To ensure that your plate is well balanced, make sure it includes lots of different colors. I do this when I'm making a salad in Terraces. Start with green, spinach or mixed greens as your base. Then add red or green peppers, orange carrots and red tomatoes. Not only does this make your plate "pretty", but it also ensures that you are getting a wide range of nutrients as well.
  • Always have snacks prepared for in between classes or when you feel hungry. Waiting to eat can cause you to overeat when you do, so eat "mini meals" or snacks between meals to curb your appetite. Fruit is very satisfying and always portable snack. Stop by one of the retail locations and pick up a healthy snack bar, fruit or yogurt cup.
  • Start your day off right! Having yogurt and granola for breakfast is quick and easy and has the right balance of carbs, dairy and protein to keep you full and focused.
Want more nutrition tips like these? Like us on Facebook! Throughout the whole month of March we will be posting a Health Tip of the Day! Happy Nutrition Month and happy healthy eating!

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