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Friday, June 1, 2012

MyPlate, My Family

As summer starts, I’ve been thinking about how quickly this year is going by. I’m not only a pediatrician — I’m a mom, too. My kids have just finished another year of school and their summer camps have begun.

It has also been already a year since the USDA launched MyPlate, which replaced the food pyramid that baffled so many of us as we were growing up. Happy Birthday, MyPlate!

Since then, I had the amazing opportunity to take part in a panel discussion with First Lady Michele Obama about healthy living. Besides MyPlate, her tips included having family meals, saving desserts for weekends, and making exercise a priority so you can be a good role model for your kids. (You can watch a video of the panel discussion here and get more tips here.)

MyPlate isn’t just something I tell my patients about or write about for WebMD. It’s also helping my family. This past year, we used MyPlate to help our family be healthier. You know what? It really made a difference!

When MyPlate debuted last year, I thought, “What a great way to help my kids learn about healthy eating.” I posted a picture of it on my ‘fridge. My kids were very curious about it, so we talked about it that very evening, and then, almost at every meal. It was so exciting to see them learn.

Now, at dinner, my kids love filling half their plate with salad or vegetables. (That’s one of the points on MyPlate: Fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables).  If they have bread, they usually eat whole wheat (That’s another MyPlate point, to make half of your grains whole grains.) They have learned that whole wheat and other whole grains are really important to get the most nutrition.

My kids also now remind me to add low-fat dairy to a meal, as they know that calcium is important for growing kids (and moms, too!).  And at restaurants, my daughter will examine her plate to make sure she has the correct amount of veggies, protein, and bread on it.

Don’t get me wrong: My kids haven’t totally transformed. They still press me, every now and then, for a junky snack at the grocery store. But my son will also remind me to get nuts to make sure we have healthy protein for snacks. That’s progress!

Myself, and the other doctors here at WebMD, enjoy using MyPlate so much that we decided we would Tweet our favorite meal pics in June to celebrate MyPlate’s birthday. So keep an eye out for that (you can follow WebMD on Twitter here).

How has MyPlate made YOUR family healthier?

Posted by: Hansa Bhargava, MD at 11:00 am

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