Americans have new government guidelines for nutrition. The guide, developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), has been designed to make it easier for people to eat healthier.
Since 1992, the USDA”s Food Pyramid was the nutritional gold standard. However, many Americans found it confusing and hard to follow. That led to the creation of new guidelines and a simple graphic.
“It is easier for consumers to use, making it simpler for people to implement as a daily food guide,” says Kara Trochta, a registered dietitian nutritionist in San Antonio.
The iconic Food Pyramid has been replaced by the symbol of a plate, divided into five sections. Each portion represents one of the five basic food groups: grains, vegetables, fruits, milk products and proteins.
The new symbol, officially known as MyPlate, was rolled out on June 2, 2011. The updated guidelines are accessible on the Internet at www.choosemyplate.gov.
Trochta, formerly with the UT Health San Antonio MD Anderson Cancer Center, notes the MyPlate guidelines emphasizes avoiding oversized portions as well as consuming a healthy diet.
“There is a focus on portion sizes and eating larger servings of fruits and vegetables,” Trochta explains. “It recommends making half your plate fruits and vegetables.”
The changes are the result of more science-based studies into healthy eating, according to Trochta. “We are learning more every day about food and how it interacts with the body,” she adds.
The USDA’s new guidelines stress daily food choices that will help Americans maintain a healthy weight and optimize body functions. The balance is essential to good health.
That last point is especially important for those who are battling cancer, Trochta says.
“MyPlate recommendations are for the public in general, but a person going through cancer needs an individualized plan that meets their specific needs,” she says.
That is one reason the Cancer Center has a nutrition specialist on staff in the Patient and Family Services division.
Health eating is another tool for patient to use on the road to recovery. But every American should take advantage of the nutritional guidelines to live healthier lives.