But, seriously…what should I eat?!
Sometimes, people who are used to diets and regimented eating plans get frustrated at the fact that I’m not going to tell them what to eat. Because I follow an Intuitive Eating philosophy, I believe that you possess the internal wisdom that tells you what, when, and how much to eat, and that my job is to help you reconnect with those internal cues. If you learn to listen to it, your gut or intuition will tell you what it wants or needs at any given moment. But, I get it…sometimes you might need a little guidance. So, while everyone is different, my advice would be that in general, eating a little bit from all food groups will not only make you feel your best physically, but will also help you to gain more satisfaction in your eating.
At a Halloween event I went to with my daughter last October, an organization called First 5 California was giving out stickers, mini soccer balls, and all kinds of fun stuff. I’ve always been an unabashed fan of swag, so I was sure to grab one of everything and stash it in my diaper bag. Most of it has yet to see the light of day (as often happens with free stuff), but one item that I was particularly fond of and that has gotten quite a bit of use here in my home was a kid’s plate depicting the USDA MyPlate recommendations.
As Nutrition Master’s students, we learned all about the MyPlate recommendations: fill about half your plate with fruits and vegetables, about a quarter of it with whole grains, and the remaining quarter should be a protein (Note: although this adorable little plate does not show this, the USDA’s MyPlate also includes a side portion of dairy, which many argue is the result of pressure from lobbyists. I agree that dairy can be lumped in with the protein group, so I actually like that my little plate doesn’t include it as a separate group).
Is this over-simplified? Yes. Does every meal need to look like this? Absolutely not. Do I believe everything the USDA tells me about food? Definitely no! What I take from the MyPlate recommendations, however, is the idea that variety is what our bodies (and taste buds!) need in order to feel our best, as well as to feel satisfied in our eating. So, that means making an attempt over the course of a day or several days (not necessarily at every meal) to eat a variety of foods from all food groups.
As you can see from the above photo, I’ve had fun making some of Baby E’s meals look like a model MyPlate, but not every meal is necessarily like this. I do feel, however, that tools like this are a nice reminder to include all types of foods in our diets, and a good place to start is the plate right in front of you at any given meal time.
What do you think of the MyPlate recommendations? Do you feel that this way of eating makes you feel your best and/or feel satisfaction in your eating? Or does another way of eating work best for you? I’d love to hear your thoughts!