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Healthy Eating Plate

MyPlateI read an interesting article today from another blog, which touches on an article I wrote back in June about your lifestyle being just as important as any diet out there. What I failed to mention was the US Department of Agriculture’s ousting of the food pyramid we came to know in adolescence and its replacement: MyPlate.

Now, Harvard professors have upped the ante, creating their own version of this diagram entitled the Healthy Eating Plate.

P.J. Skerrett, editor of the Harvard Heart Letter and senior editor for InteliHealth, writes that a group of his “colleagues at Harvard Health Publications worked with nutrition experts at the Harvard School of Public Health to create a better version.” This version offers more accurate recommendations for following a healthy diet and is not influenced by the food industry or agriculture policy.

Here is what the Healthy Eating Plate recommends:

  • Make half your meal vegetables and fruits. Go for variety. And keep in mind that potatoes and french fries don’t count.
  • Choose whole grains whenever you can. Limit refined grains, like white rice and white bread, because the body rapidly turns them into blood sugar.
  • Pick the healthiest sources of protein, such as fish, poultry, beans, and nuts; cut back on red meat; avoid bacon, cold cuts, and other processed meats.
  • Healthy oils (like olive and canola oil) are good for you. Don’t be afraid to use them for cooking, on salad, and at the table.
  • Drink water, tea, or coffee. Milk and dairy are not must-have foods—limit them to 1-2 servings/day. Go easy on juice. Avoid sugary drinks.
  • And stay active!

Simple, right? Right.

So what is the difference between MyPlate and Harvard’s Health Eating Plate, you ask? Well, other than adding verbiage to the elementary pictures, MyPlate recommends dairy or milk at each meal even though there is not much evidence noting it is actually beneficial. There is more evidence that consuming dairy can be harmful and little confirmation that high dairy intake protects against osteoporosis. Health Eating Plate includes the importance of consuming healthy oils (like olive and canola oil) stating they are good for you. Healthy Eating Plate holds its basis on nutritional science, uninfluenced by commercial pressure. To that end, I am reminded of an excerpt from the New York Times best seller Skinny Bitch (pardon my French!) about losing weight on a health vegan diet. No, I am not a vegan, but I found it interesting and thought to share the excerpt.

When a woman gives birth, her body produces milk and she nurses her child. Breast milk can grow an 8-pound newborn into a 24-pound toddler. Sounds pretty fattening, huh? It is. By design, it is intended to allow for the biggest growth spurt of a person’s entire life. Breast milk alone can accommodate for a 300 percent weight gain in a 12 month period. When her child is anywhere from 12 to 24 months old, a mother stops breast feeding. Her milk dries up. The child will never drink breast milk ever again. Cows, like all mammals, are much the same. Their bodies produce milk only when they give birth. Contrary to popular belief, they do not need to be milked – ever. Their udders, like women’s breasts, exist even when there is no milk in them. There is one major difference, however. Cows’ milk, by design, grows a 90-pound calf into a 2,000-pound cow over the course of 2 years. It allows calves to double their birth weight in forty-seven days and leaves their four stomachs feeling full. Sounds even more fattening than human milk, right? It is. It should be. Cows are bigger than humans. And the inner workings of their bodies are completely different than ours, which they should be. They are cows. We are humans. Duh.

  Appealing, no? So it's like any good mother told you as a child - eat your fruits and veggies and have well-balanced meals. Just don't eat like it's going out of style.