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MyPlate, Your Plate. How Will You Fill Your Plate?

The shape may have shifted, but the message remains the same: dairy is an important part of every meal.
MyPlate, the new icon that represents the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, highlights dairy’s important role on people’s tables and in their diets. The blue circle represents low-fat or fat-free dairy, but getting 3 daily servings from this food group doesn’t necessarily mean drinking milk at every meal. Together milk, yogurt and cheese provide nine essential nutrients – and by adding them to other nutrient-rich foods, you can make an already healthy meal even more nutritious.
Government data reveals that on average Americans are falling below recommended dairy food intake by the age of 4 years, which can put them at an increased risk for stress fractures and bone breaks now, and osteoporosis later in life. On average, Americans are getting only about half (1.7 servings) of the three dairy servings they should consume daily.
Dairy delivers a unique nutrient package that’s hard to beat. In fact, milk is the number one food source of calcium, potassium and vitamin D in the diet, providing three of the four nutrients of public health concern, as identified in the Dietary Guidelines. Simple steps such as making your oatmeal with milk or topping a baked potato with fat-free plain yogurt and low-fat cheese can give your meal a nutrient boost.
Lactose intolerant? You don’t have to dismiss dairy. Different people can handle differing amounts of lactose, and there’s a solution to meet most needs – from lactose-free milk to dairy foods that are typically easier to digest. Aged cheeses are naturally lower in lactose and many yogurts contain live and active cultures which help digest lactose.
Did you know that a serving of low-fat or fat-free milk, cheese or yogurt has, on average, at least as much protein as an egg? In fact the dairy food group contributes 18 percent of the protein to the American diet. That’s all the more reason to try to add one more serving of low-fat or fat-free dairy to your diet every day.
MyPlate offers a simple visual reminder to make healthy food choices when you choose your next meal. By making half your plate fruits and vegetables, one quarter whole grains, and one quarter lean protein, and by including a serving of low-fat or fat-free dairy with every meal, you are sure to fuel a healthy lifestyle. Though MyPlate is depicted as an actual plate, these recommendations can fit into dishes of all shapes. Whether you’re eating from a plate, bowl or glass, Five Food Groups is the goal.

How will you fill your plate? Share with us and join the conversation on 9Health Fair’s Facebook page.

Written By: Jenna Allen, MS, RD
Jenna Allen is a registered dietitian who works for the Western Dairy Association. As Nutrition Affairs Manager, she is responsible for the coordination and execution of nutrition communications, and health professional outreach in Colorado. Additionally, she serves as a spokesperson for Western Dairy Association on food, nutrition and dairy-related topics.
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The shape may have shifted, but the message remains the same: dairy is an important part of every meal. MyPlate, the new icon that represents the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, highlights dairy’s important role on people’s tables and in their diets. The blue circle represents low-fat or fat-free dairy, but getting 3 daily servings […]