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Shape Up Your Plate in Honor of National Nutrition Month

Healthy foods
Karen Buzby, RD, LDN, member of the Penn Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery team, discusses a new government-sponsored program to encourage better food choices and provide tips for eating healthy.

March is National Nutrition Month and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is providing you the information you need to achieve a healthier lifestyle. But even after you make the commitment to eating healthy, figuring out how to achieve that on a meal-to-meal basis can be tough and confusing. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has developed a program to help.

MyPlate is an online resource that provides dietary advice based on the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Unlike other diet guides, MyPlate uses an actual place setting to visually illustrate a healthy meal made up of all the major food groups. That means no more confusion about how to translate dietary advice to an actual meal and no more guessing about portion size.

Follow these tips to get your plate in shape*:

Balance calories

If you’re unsure how many calories you need to manage your weight, there’s no need to guess! Go to to find out your daily caloric needs. MyPlate provides the recommended number of daily servings from each food group to help you make smart and healthy dietary choices. 

Enjoy your food, but eat less

Take your time to eat and pay attention to feelings of fullness.

Avoid oversized portions

Use smaller plates to encourage smaller portions. When eating out, opt to share a meal or take home part of the serving. 

Fill up on nutrient-rich foods

Make vegetables, fruit, whole grains and low-fat dairy products staples in your diet. They’re high in nutrients and vitamins and low in fat, making them ideal food choices for good health. In fact, experts recommend covering half your plate with fruits and vegetables and ensuring that half your grains are whole grains. 

Always choose low- or non-fat milk

By choosing fat-free or 1 percent low-fat milk, you cut calories and fat without losing the flavor or important nutrients like calcium and vitamin D.

Curtail your sweet tooth

There’s no doubt that sweet foods and beverages are both tasty and addicting, but they’re also high in fat, sugar and salt. Eat them only occasionally and in small quantities to satisfy your sweet tooth without compromising your healthy diet. One easy way to do this is by replacing sugar beverages with water and unsweetened drinks.  

Pay attention to sodium

You might be surprised by the sodium content in everyday foods. Before making a food selection, read the nutrition facts label and stick to foods that are low in sodium to help promote cardiovascular health. 

For more information, visit the MyPlate website.  

- Karen Buzby, RD, LDN


About this Blog

Learn about bariatric surgery and get the support you need to continue on your weight-loss journey. We offer workouts, recipes and tips from Bariatric Surgery program team members, and stories from patients like you.

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