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Making your food a MyPlate masterpiece

Focused on Health - April 2013

by Adelina Espat

These tips are part of the Healthy Bites guide, developed to help you eat the right foods and lower your cancer risks!

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has had a lot on its plate. And, it’s all because of their food icon, called MyPlate.

myplate foodLaunched in 2011, this colorful visual teaches Americans how to make healthier food choices by giving people a clear picture of portion sizes for certain foods.

“The MyPlate icon is an easy-to-understand nutrition tool that supports many of the food recommendations we make for reducing cancer risks,” says Mary Ellen Herndon, a wellness dietitian at MD Anderson and the Healthy Bites challenge coach. 

That’s because MyPlate focuses on filling most of your plate with plant foods, like vegetables, fruits and grains. And, making these healthier food choices can play a big part in helping to reduce your risks of cancer.

“This is a quick, simple reminder for all of us to be more mindful of the foods that we’re eating and as a mom, I can already tell how much this is going to help parents across the country,” said First Lady Michelle Obama when MyPlate launched.

healthy foodEven better news? There’s not just an icon to help you serve up a healthier plate. The government also has created several online tools to help you make MyPlate part of your family’s daily diet.

Here are three of our favorite USDA online tools that are free and easy-to-use.

1.  10 tips to a great plate

“Choose My Plate” is a one-page cheat sheet that’s a great print-out for your refrigerator! It gives you easy ideas for:

  • balancing calories
  • foods to eat more often
  • foods to eat less often

Print “Choose My Plate.”

2.  Your daily food plan

Not sure how to make the MyPlate icon work for you? Try the Daily Food Plan.

This interactive tool tells you how many servings of fruits, vegetables, protein, grains and dairy you need, based on your myplate foodage, weight and height. And, it tells you how many cups of different types of fruits and vegetables you should aim for each week.

Need more? It also recommends related websites where you can find additional advice on each food group.

Get your “Daily Food Plan.”

3.  SuperTracker: Track your daily calories

Believe it or not, it is possible to eat too much of a good thing. That’s why the MyPlate SuperTracker helps you keep track of your food portions.

This online tool allows you to set personal calorie goals and keeps a log of how much and what type of food you eat. It even has a section for you to jot down the amount of time you exercise each day.

Try the SuperTracker.

With these handy tools, you can make MyPlate your plate!

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© 2014 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center