Here's a rundown, section by section:
Fill half of your plate with vegetables and fruits. The more color, and the more variety on this part of the plate, the better. Potatoes and French fries don't count as vegetables on the Healthy Eating Plate, because they are high in fast-digested starch (carbohydrate), which has the same roller-coaster effect on blood sugar and insulin as white bread and sweets. These surges, in the short term, can lead to hunger and overeating, and in the long term, can lead to weight gain, type 2 diabetes, and other health problems.
Save a quarter of your plate for whole grains—not just any grains: Whole grains—whole wheat, brown rice, and foods made with them, such as whole wheat pasta—have a gentler effect on blood sugar and insulin than white bread, white rice, and other so-called “refined grains.” That’s why the Healthy Eating Plate says to choose whole grains—the less processed, the better—and limit refined grains.
The Nutrition Source
Healthy Eating Plate
1. Keep fruit out where you can see it. That way you'll be more likely to eat it. Keep it out on the counter or in the front of the fridge.
2. Get some every meal, every day. Try filling half your plate with vegetables at each meal. Serving up salads, stir fry, or other vegetable-rich fare makes it easier to reach this goal. Bonus points if you can get some fruits and vegetables at snack time, too.
3. Explore the produce aisle and choose something new. Variety is the key to a healthy diet. Get out of a rut and try some new fruits and vegetables.
4. Bag the potatoes. Choose other vegetables that are packed with more nutrients and more slowly digested carbs.
5. Make it a meal. Try some new healthy recipes where vegetables take center stage.
Percentage reporting that they consumed fruit and vegetables at least five times daily, by age group and sex, household population aged 12 or older, Canada, 2010
Source: Canadian Community Health Survey, 2010.
Quebec (50.4%) and Yukon (52.5%) were the only jurisdictions in which residents reported eating fruit and vegetables at least five times daily at a rate that was above the national average in 2010. Residents of Ontario (42.8%) and British Columbia (42.3%) reported consuming fruit and vegetables at least five times daily at about the same rate as the Canadian average. In all other provinces and territories the proportion of residents who consumed fruit and vegetables at least five times daily was lower than the national average.
What Steps Can Parents Take?
Model healthy eating behaviors, make healthy choices available.
Try new fruits, vegetables, bean, chicken and other foods and recipes. Cook or prepare food more often as a family. Guard against fatigue because a tired parent can rely too heavily on fast foods or highly processed foods.
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Veggie Aversion Solved
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It's hard to argue with the health benefits of a diet rich in vegetables and fruits: Lower blood pressure; reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, and probably some cancers; lower risk of eye and digestive problems; and a mellowing effect on blood sugar that can help keep appetite in check.
Most people should aim for at least nine servings (at least 4½ cups) of vegetables and fruits a day, and potatoes don't count. Go for a variety of kinds and colors of produce, to give your body the mix of nutrients it needs. Best bets? Dark leafy greens, cooked tomatoes, and anything that's a rich yellow, orange, or red color.