college students · nutrition · Uncategorized · well-being

“MyPlate”: A New Guide For Healthy Eating

By Robin Quay, MS, RD, Sodexo Dietitian

So what’s this “ MyPlate” thing anyway?

In June of 2011, USDA switched from the Food Guide Pyramid to MyPlate (, to help Americans make healthier food choices.  Some of the suggestions given by MyPlate to help Americans eat better include:

Make half your plate fruits and vegetables:

Choose red, orange, and dark-green vegetables like tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and broccoli, along with other vegetables for your meals. Add fruit to meals as part of main or side dishes or as dessert. (Vegetables and fruits are loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytonutrients-things that are inadequate in the typical American diet)

Make at least half your grains whole grains:

To eat more whole grains, substitute a whole-grain product for a refined product—such as eating whole wheat bread instead of white bread or brown rice instead of white rice. (Whole grains contain more vitamins, minerals and fiber than refined, enriched grains)

Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk:

They have the same amount of calcium and other essential nutrients as whole milk, but fewer calories and less saturated fat.

This is what the icon looks like:

Photo courtesy of USDA

So how, as busy college students eating in the dining hall, can you do this?

As you go to fill your plate at Reber-Thomas, think about the MyPlate icon. How can you fill ½ your plate with fruits and vegetables? Head over to the salad bar for some fresh, colorful veggie selections like spinach, romaine lettuce, carrots and tomatoes.  Grab some cooked veggies at the Main Plate area, but be careful about high calorie sauces that may be on them. There are fresh veggie salads at the Sandwich Station, stir-fried veggies at the Wok Station, and veggies that can be added to pasta or eaten separately at La Cucina.

Chilled and cut-up fruit is available at the salad bar, and there are pieces of fresh fruit to grab by the grill.

Now that your plate is ½ filled with fruit & veggies, how about some whole grains? There’s whole grain bread available at Reber, to eat on its own, or to use to build a sandwich. Also, sometimes there is whole wheat pasta at La Cucina, and brown rice at The Wok Station (just make sure that it’s actually brown rice, and not white rice that has been seasoned!) Often there is brown rice or quinoa, an ancient whole grain that has recently become popular again, at the Balance Station. However, since the Balance Station is gluten free, go there first, so that you don’t bring in foods containing gluten and contaminate the gluten free foods.

The last ¼ of your plate is for lean protein. Check out the offerings at the different stations-roasted, broiled, or grilled meats and fish are a great way to round out your plate.  The meats cooked on the rotisserie are a good choice, as well as turkey, ham or roast beef at the sandwich bar. Legumes like kidney beans at the salad bar are a delicious, low fat, vegetarian protein choice.

And don’t forget the dairy! Have a glass of low fat (1%) or nonfat milk with your meal. If you’re not a fan of drinking milk, add some low fat yogurt or cottage cheese from the salad bar for Vitamin D and calcium.

This is what an actual plate looks like, when you follow the MyPlate guidelines:

Photo courtesy of Doctor Yum

 The left half of the plate is filled with a fresh veggie salad and fresh fruit. The upper right hand corner has a whole-grain rice pilaf, and the lower right hand corner has some grilled fish. A glass of 1% milk completes the meal.

If you’d like to learn more about how food choices affect your well-being, sign up for the free, Fit Flames Workshop, developed and taught by a Registered Dietitian.  The classes will be meeting the 4th Tuesday of the month, this semester, in the Reber-Thomas VIP room. To enroll, please e-mail


2 thoughts on ““MyPlate”: A New Guide For Healthy Eating

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