Making healthier food choices just got a little easier

Recently the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service helped translate the newly released Dietary Guidelines for Americans with the MyPlate resources for consumers.

MyPlate is the federal nutrition symbol that serves as a general healthy eating guide on what and how much to eat. USDA’s Start Simple with MyPlate aims to help Americans set simple, achievable goals using MyPlate to build a healthy eating routine.

According to USDA officials, these new MyPlate tools and resources on for healthy eating can help consumers make small changes that best fit their personal, cultural and budgetary needs at any stage of life, ultimately, helping them achieve better health.

Consumers can be confused and feel like they don’t know what to do and want some help, and that’s where the suite of MyPlate tools come into play. USDA experts said the Dietary Guidelines are really the what and MyPlate is the how. The Start Simple with MyPlate app is where they can go to get inspiration and simple ideas to incorporate into their lives to help improve their health and well being over time.

Tools include:

• MyPlate plan: Food group targets. What and how much to eat within your calorie allowance. Your food plan is personalized, based on your age, sex, height, weight, and physical activity level.

• Start Simple with MyPlate App: Build healthy eating habits one goal at a time by using the mobile app to pick daily food goals, see real-time progress, and earn fun badges along the way.

• MyPlate Quiz: Help make very bite count by taking the quiz to find out and get personalized resources toStart Simple with MyPlate.

• Quizzes: Test your knowledge of the 5 food groups by taking fun quizzes.

For example, if someone takes the quiz and isn’t eating enough vegetables, the app provides information to help them eat more vegetables and links to recipes that can help them incorporate those veggies into their day. Additionally users receive a personalized quiz results code to sync with the Start Simple with MyPlate app.

There’s been a lot of positive feedback about this app and USDA keeps hearing users love how simple it is. Unprompted they have heard people appreciate that it does not require them to input every morsel of food eaten every day at every meal. Instead, it helps people set simple goals.

Also in the app, users are able to set food group goals, and there are tips on how to achieve those goals. Experts said there’s a dashboard to see progress, and users can earn badges as goals are met.

The personalized MyPlate plan is another tool available. This is for someone who wants just a bit more information. The user takes the quiz and learns about how to set goals, and in this plan it gets a little bit more specific. A user would find out how much to eat for each of the five food groups, based on their answers for questions on age, weight, height, sex and activity level. A specific plan based on caloric levels to fit needs is generated.

The website also offers recipes and the MyPlate Kitchen, where users can sort recipes based on food groups, cooking type and other categories. In the MyPlate app quizzes, information on food groups is linked to the kitchen site to fit the needs of the user.

Also on the website is a section regarding Healthy Eating on a Budget, A number of consumers believe healthy eating is expensive, according to USDA experts, but it really doesn’t have to be. This section helps stretch food dollars and save money at the grocery store. There are shopping tips, meal planning and prep information. Experts believe this is important to help American families during this challenging time.

Kylene Scott can be reached at 620-227-1804 or [email protected].