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Rebooting Eating Habits This Summer With MyPlate

USDA

With all the talk about improving school lunches, I often feel sheepish about the foods my kids are actually eating at home.  It’s humbling to think about marching into my administrator’s office to demand answers about the nutritional properties of cafeteria food when I have trouble getting my own kids to eat their vegetables or even one vegetable.

On June 2nd, First Lady Michelle Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack released a new food icon to replace The Food Pyramid.  The new MyPlate food icon is meant to teach Americans to build healthier meals.

I personally prefer MyPlate to the food pyramid because it’s a better visual representation of the way we actually eat.  I rarely pile all my food for the day into a giant pile, separated by food group, but I do frequently eat my food on a plate.  I’m hoping my kids will identify with this way of eating as well, although I'm sure they'd prefer to go completely dishless. 

I also like MyPlate because it focuses on making each meal balanced, rather than The Pyramid which always made me think about how to balance food throughout the day or week or lifetime.  I’d look at a meal and think, “Yeah, I probably eat more vegetables and whole grains OVERALL, even though this lunch is entirely made up of white pasta and cheese.”

So I’m going to print off the new icon and post it near the dinner table so the kids can practice dishing up.  I may even mark up some old plates as a guide.  Hopefully as I’m packing their lunches next year, they’ll be more inclined to make wise choices and I’ll feel like less of a hypocrite tackling the issue of healthy school lunches.

Go to the USDA ChooseMyPlate website for more information, meal plans, games and ideas for working with your kids to improve their nutrition.

Kathryn Thompson is a mom to two school-aged kids, a toddler and a deceased betta fish. She can also be found at The Parenting Post, DaringYoungMom.com and occasionally the gym.

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