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  • EXTENSION CONNECTION: Looking into MyPlate

  • MyPlate is a simple image designed to remind us to make healthy food choices at meals and snacks. This includes eating a variety of foods from the five basic food groups shown in the logo.

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  • MyPlate is a simple image designed to remind us to make healthy food choices at meals and snacks. This includes eating a variety of foods from the five basic food groups shown in the logo.
    When looking at MyPlate, you can easily picture the advice to make half your plate fruits and vegetables. The other half should consist of grains, preferably whole grains, and various lean protein foods. Include low-fat dairy milk or yogurt with meals and snacks, as well. Just because MyPlate shows a plate with separate food groups, however, does not mean that you should avoid eating sandwiches, stews, casseroles or other mixed dishes. Similarly, feel free to serve any food in cups or bowls!
    While the image is new, the information about what and how much to eat has not changed. Both the older MyPyramid and the new MyPlate illustrate the same food groups and the same recommendations about what and how much to eat.
    The MyPlate logo includes a website where you and your family can get lots of specific information about what and how much to eat www.ChooseMyPlate.gov ). It is loaded with practical ways to help people make healthier food choices. At this website, you can learn about which foods to eat more of, which foods to eat less of, healthy choices within the various food groups, how many calories and servings you need based on your age and gender, and guidelines for physical activity. It also includes many tip sheets and ideas for families with youngsters, information on weight loss, examples of seven days of balanced meals, some recipes, a food planner and a food diary tracker.
    The main dietary advice to remember is:
    • Enjoy your food, but eat less.
    • Avoid oversized portions.
    • Make half your plate fruits and vegetables. (See page 3 for more about this!)
    • Make at least half your grains whole grains.
    • Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.
    • Compare sodium in foods — and choose the foods with lower numbers.
    • Drink water instead of sugary drinks.
    Healthy eating requires safe food to eat. September is national Food Safety Education Month. The four basic ways to handle food safely are: Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill. Read on for easy, specific actions that you and your family can take to reduce your risk of getting a foodborne illness.
    Clean: Wash Hands Often. Wash them for at least 20 seconds before and after preparing food, and before eating. Handwashing is also important after using the bathroom, changing diapers, coughing or sneezing, tending to someone who is sick or injured, touching an animal or handling garbage. Before cooking or preparing food, wash your work area. Rub dirt off of fresh fruits and vegetables under cool running water.
    Page 2 of 2 - Separate: Keep Raw Meats and Eggs Separate from Cooked or Ready-To-Eat Foods. When shopping, place raw meat/fish/poultry in a plastic bag to separate it from other foods in the cart and your take-home bags. Once home, store them in a container on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator to prevent raw juices from leaking onto ready-to-eat foods. Use a clean cutting board for raw meat/fish/ poultry and another clean board to cut ready-to-eat foods. Don’t let cooked foods touch a utensil or platter that has juices from raw meat/fish/poultry.
    Cook: Cook to Proper Temperature. To destroy any potentially harmful bacteria, cook meat/fish/poultry/leftovers to safe internal temperatures. For safety and quality, let meats stand/rest for three minutes after cooking and before carving or eating it. Use a food thermometer that you cleaned with hot soapy water before (and after) use. When using a microwave oven, periodically stir/rotate/flip the food as it cooks, so it heats evenly throughout, and no cold spots are left where harmful bacteria can survive. Cook eggs until the yolk and white are not runny.
    Minimum Internal Cooking Temperature
    Raw beef, pork, lamb and fish: 145 degrees F.
    Raw ground beef, pork and lamb and egg dishes: 160 degrees F.
    All raw chicken and turkey, all leftovers: 165 degrees F.
    Chill: Refrigerate Promptly to 40 Degrees F. or Below. Pack perishable food in a cooler after shopping for the drive home. Refrigerate raw and cooked perishable foods at least within two hours (one hour when the room temperature is above 90 degrees). Don’t defrost or marinate perishable foods at room temperature. Refrigerate perishable leftovers in shallow containers to speed up the cooling process. Eat or discard refrigerated leftovers within a safe time frame.
    For additional information, contact the Wildcat Extension District, Crawford County, 620-724-8233, Labette County, 620-784-5337, Montgomery County, 620-331-2690, Pittsburg Office, Expanded Food and Nutrition Education (EFNEP), 620-232-1930.

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