I know, I know it's defined but it's really hard to remember, no?) I knew what the underlying recommendations were... but when it came to implement them on a daily basis, then I was a little bit confused. The new My Plate that the U.S Department of Agriculture came up with a few months ago was supposed to make things easier for people to understand. While I it was a little bit less confusing than the Pyramid, it did not give people a simple way to improve their diet. White buns and hot dogs and fries would qualify on My Plate while we all know that this would not qualify as as "healthy meal" by dieticians' objective eyes!!
I came across the new Harvard Healthy Plate the other day and I thought that I would share it with you because I think that it is a really good illustration of how we should all try to eat (and no I have not received it from Harvard to publish on this blog). At least, I believe that Harvard is honnest when it says that their Healthy Plate has not been influenced by lobbying groups from the food industry or agriculture policy (hmm why am I thinking about corn subventions?)...
The way I use it is to visualize how much of what I serve to my children (and to myself). My only problem is that being French, we tend to serve dishes in sequences (yes, that would be the three-or-four-course meal)... so it's not easy for me to visualize the proportion of the different types of food I serve and their relative "volume". Maybe I should go back to the cafeteria trays we used back when I was in junior high and high-school???
My advice to steadily serve meals that fit on that Harvard Healthy plate?
1) Incremental changes like, for example, increasing the amount of legumes (lentils, chickpeas, etc.) you serve along with whole grain food (bread, cereals, pasta, rice, etc.)...
2) Put this new Healthy Plate on your fridge
3) Carry a small print with you when you go grocery shopping, especially if you have not planned your meals (!)... this picture will give you ideas of what to purchase....
4) Talk about it with your children... this is a good way to get them acquire a good healthy diet! And it will give you a good excuse to limit sugar-loaded juices and to offer yet another serving of kale!!
5) Keep faith that your children will indeed enjoy Kale with wholegrain rice one day (I am still working on that one!!).
6) Enjoy your meals!
PS: You can read more about the Healthy Plate on the Harvard Health website.