Monday, September 18, 2017

MyPlate Misconceptions

MyPlate was launched in 2011 as a new tool for consumers to use to help them eat healthier and create more balanced meals.  The design uses a plate to designate the different food groups rather than a pyramid since Americans are more familiar with eating off a plate.  Dietetic professionals use MyPlate to help educate their clients on how to create balanced meals and help them understand the importance of living a healthy lifestyle.  However, there has been some confusion on certain aspects of the nutrition tool. 

One misconception is that all meals need to be eaten on a plate and follow the template.  MyPlate was created because of the familiarity of the plate, but it is understood that not all meals are eaten on a plate or even at a table every day.  MyPlate was designed to help explain the components of a meal that should be taken into consideration when building your meal.  Not all food groups have to be accounted for at every meal either.  Dietetic professionals are helpful in showing how mixed dishes and casseroles can fit into the MyPlate template as well since they contain many food groups rather than having each separate on the plate. 

Another misconception is that MyPlate does not allow snacks.  Snacking is encouraged to satisfy hunger between meals and to show how to create healthy snacks as well.  Snacks probably won’t follow the template of each food group on the plate either, but using MyPlate, snacks can remain healthy and balanced just like regular meals.

Since MyPlate does not have a designated food group for fats and oils, this can be confusing as well.  However, MyPlate encourages the use of healthy fats like polyunsaturated (PUFA) and mono-unsaturated (MUFA) fats in creating healthy meals.  Examples include olive oil, nuts, and avocado.

The final misconception is the use of the “protein” food group rather than “meat and beans” food group.  It is important to realize that protein sources come from many different foods rather than just meat and bean products.  There are many vegetarian sources of protein including food made from soy, nuts, and seeds.     

To fully understand the MyPlate tool, it's beneficial to work with dietetic professionals to create balanced meals and create a healthy lifestyle to follow. Dietetics professionals can help clear up any confusion regarding MyPlate and help break down combination foods into each food group.


Haven, J., Maniscalco, S., Bard, S., & Ciampo, M. (2014). MyPlate myths debunked. Journal Of The Academy Of Nutrition And Dietetics, 114(5), 674-675. doi:10.1016/j.jand.2014.03.

Influencing Food and Beverage Choices in College Communities

Influencing Food and Beverage Choices in College Communities

The “Freshman Fifteen” is a phrase we have all heard, and that most college students fear. College is a time where students are often making dietary and lifestyle choices on their own for the first time. Many cafeterias and college eateries serve students buffet style. This allows student to pick their favorite meals, and to fill up to maximum capacity before heading back to the dorms. Many buffet style cafeterias feature multiple entrees, soup options, salad/fruit bars, side dishes, desserts, and multiple beverages. A typical collegiate diet does not have adequate fruit or vegetable intake. Likewise, it is usually high in calories, added sugar, fat and sodium. For these reasons, researchers at the University of Toronto and Memorial University of Newfoundland began a cross-sectional study that examines the effect of encouraging healthful dietary patterns in students. They placed emphasis on fruits, vegetables, and water intake.

The study began by encouraging students to choose water as their beverage and by using physical activity calorie equivalent (PACE) labeling, which illustrates the minutes of jogging required to burn the calories in the different beverages options. This is a unique labeling method that is not typically seen. The second part of the study, focused on posters that were hung in strategically selected locations to promote fruit and vegetable consumption.

Data showed that, after the interventions, sugar-sweetened beverage consumption was reduced, and fruit and vegetable intake was increased. There was a significant increase (nearly 11%) in the amount of student’s drinking water before vs after the intervention. Trips to the fruit bar increased by 6%, and trips to the salad bar increased by 12%."

These results prove that nutrition education and focusing on increasing student awareness can help promote healthier lifestyle choices. I think this could be an area where more student run dietetic associations can become involved. By doing events and basic info sharing, students in dietetic associations can help influence the intake of their community.


Source: Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior
Today's Dietitian

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Food Safety after a Hurricane

After the recent hurricanes, many families are going to have to decide what foods they need to throw away because they are not safe to eat anymore. There are also need to be considerations for issues such as clean water and freezer/fridge temperatures. It is important to throw out anything that could be contaminated. If the food item came in contact with the flood water at all, it should be thrown out. This would include foods packed in plastic, paper, cardboard, cloth and similar containers. Any kind of product that has a screw-cap, snap lips, crimped caps, twist caps, flip tops and home canned foods should also be discarded.

Water is the most important area to be mindful of food safety. Use bottled water that has not been exposed to flood waters, boil water to make it safe, or disinfect the water with household bleach. Watch for contamination of local wells. Kitchen food contact surfaces and equipment need to be thoroughly disinfected or cleaned. Metal pans, ceramic dishes and utensils should be washed with soap and water and then sanitize by boiling in clean water. This is the same process that should be used for washing countertops, corners, cracks and crevices, door handles and door seals that have been affected by flood water. Wooden cutting boards, wooden dishes and utensils, plastic utensils, baby bottle nipples and pacifiers should be discarded because they can not be safely cleaned.

Walfram,  T. (2017). Food safety in the home after a hurricane and flooding. Retrieved from

Friday, September 15, 2017

Sustainable Eating

Sustainability is the practice of conserving natural resources and lessening your impact on the environment. The practice of sustainability in food production includes the techniques used to protect the land, animals, and community so that it will help prevent harm on the future environment.  Sustainability can also be used in eating practices and food purchasing to help benefit the community and promote healthier eating in the home.  

Buying from local businesses and farms is one way of sustainable eating that keeps that money in your community and supports the local farmers.  Growing your own food is another great way to understand the growing process and how involved growing food is.  This helps us pay more attention to food waste and appreciate the small farms that put all that time in to produce our food.  Talking to others that are involved in food production is another way to get helpful tips on sustainable eating.  Eating seasonal foods in your area benefits local farmers as well.  Another sustainable practice would be to use refillable bottles for drinking rather than wasting materials by using bottled drinks.  Buying foods in bulk and buying less processed food reduces the amount of waste produced from packaging materials, which is another example of sustainable living.   

Sustainable eating practices, including how you buy your food and where you buy your food, are good ways to help create a healthier community and build a strong future for the environment.


Moore, S. (2017). Sustainable Eating. Retrieved from

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Shopping for Healthy Foods on a Limited Budget

Today’s rising food costs are causing a shift in the purchasing occurring a grocery stores. The rise can be caused by high gasoline prices, viral outbreaks, rising exports, and weather patterns. Recent rises in food prices are estimated to increase even more in the next year. According to the USDA economic research service, the cost of food at supermarkets is expected to rise 0.5-1.5%.The general population often associates healthy eating with high costs. This can make it difficult, especially for finically struggling adults, to provide nutritionally adequate meals. A question for allied healthcare professionals passionate about healthy eating would be; does it cost more to eat healthy? According to a study conducted by the USDA in 2013, healthful foods are not more expensive than less healthful foods. In all instances, grains and diary cost less than the comparative food items. The study looked at grains, protein, diary, fruit, vegetables, and “moderation items” (products high in sodium, added sugar, or saturated fats).The study looked at price for average portion, price per calorie, price per weight, and cost associated with meeting the recommended daily intake. Grocery shopping on a budget often feels like a daunting task. This can become an easier task when simple preparation steps are taken. Planning meals out ahead of time, using sale flyers, and organizing recipes for the week with similar ingredients can help. A shopping list can help reduce the amount of money grocery shoppers are spending. It helps keep consumers focused on what they need by reducing impulse buys. This can help keep total costs down. Grocery lists can be hand written or done on mobile apps. Generic brands are often cheaper than name brands. Often store-brands are 25% to 30% less than their name-brand equivalents. Even swapping a few items for generic brands can help shave off extra costs. Shopping at bulk resellers such as Costco or Sam’s can help cut costs in the long run. Usually, bulk items costs less per item. This can be beneficial for large families. Even smaller families can cut costs by buying things like toilet paper or paper towels in bulk. These items will not expire before they get used! One last way to help reduce food costs is to buy in season. Utilize local farmers markets, they are often cheaper than grocery stores, and you will be stimulating your local economy. Shopping for healthy food choices on a budget is not always easy. Food costs are on the rise along with the rate of obesity. By using these several tips, shoppers can pick nutritious foods that will not break the bank.


July 2017 Issue

CPE Monthly: Shopping for Healthful Foods on a Budget — Learn About Trends in Food Costs and Consumer Purchasing Behaviors to Help Clients Buy Healthful Foods on a Tight Budget
By Amari Thomsen, MS, RD, LDN
Today's Dietitian
Vol. 19, No. 7, P. 50

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Government Changes That Affect School Lunches

A post by the New York Times describes how the secretary for the Department of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue, does not agree with the past rules and regulations that were changed during the Obama administration. He says this about the school lunches, "your dedication and creativity was being stifled." "You were forced to focus your attention on strict, inflexible rules handed down from Washington."

Already some changes have been made to the federal school food rules. These changes to the Health, Hunger-Free Kids Act in 2010 have been in three different categories. The first was about how much of the whole grain that is required in school lunches that the federal government will reimburse. Another change has to do with milk. In the Obama rules it was stated that milk had to be 1 percent fat, but flavored milk had to be non-fat. Mr. Perdue is changing it so that 1 percent flavored milk can be served. This is actually more difficult for the schools because most flavored milks are already made non-fat, and the children have become used to the taste of that milk, so this change is not significant. The third change is that the districts do not have to be as strict on their sodium reduction. This change has been supported by most of the districts.

Even though, these changes are being made. School lunches are headed in the right direction. Schools are getting more creative with how they are serving their lunches and making them more customizable. There are more school gardens and farms than ever before and even apps to make experimenting through ordering food even easier.

The moral of the story is that schools are relying less on the government to make changes that will actually improve school lunches. They are relying on local, public-private partnerships or foundations and nonprofit organizations to really make a difference for children that can not afford to eat, to come up with new and exciting ideas, and ways to educate food service directors on how to incorporate better nutrition into the school lunches. An example of this is in Manhattan, students have developed an app called "Food for Thought" which allows people to buy lunch for those who can not afford it. It is very exciting to see this movement take place.


Severson, K. (2017, September 05). Will the Trump Era Transform the School Lunch? Retrieved from

Friday, September 8, 2017

Need to change the way school breakfast is served

Traditional school breakfast is distributed in the cafeteria just like lunch. Students do not have the time or patience in the morning to get breakfast. Many students, especially high school students, would rather sleep in than wake up early to get breakfast in the morning. Buses or kids coming in late means they would miss breakfast supplied by the school.

Breakfast in the classroom is being used more often in the classroom because students can eat in their first class. They do not have to rush to get breakfast, wait in line or rush to eat. Teachers also do not have to lose time because they can still do attendance, make announcements, collect homework or anything else while students are eating.  

Grab ‘N’ Go breakfast is also a style that gives students more freedom. They can grab paper bags, boxes or trays that are prepared usually the day before. They are able to eat it whenever and wherever they want and the school can place the cart with all the bags anywhere they want in the school. It makes it more flexible and convenient for students because they can place it by the door instead of the cafeteria.

The last option is called second chance breakfast also known as breakfast after first period. It is a way for students to get food after the first bell. It gives students a greater chance to pick food up, if they’re still hungry they can pick up more food (especially for older kids who having a bigger appetite). They also have a chance to get food if they were late in the morning and wasn’t initially hungry when they got to school because they ate at home.

These styles of serving breakfast in school has been shown to increase attendance and breakfast participation. We need to move away from the typical cafeteria tray line service for breakfast and move on to more flexible and convenient styles for students.

United States Department of Agriculture. Energize Your Day! Eat School Breakfast. There’s more than one way to serve breakfast. Retrieved from