Get Your Plate in Shape

March is National Nutrition Month, which means this month is a good time to focus on yourself and narrow your nutrition gap. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reminds us to “get our plates in shape” during National Nutrition Month and beyond.

And speaking of plates, the United States Department of Agriculture just launched a wealth of nutrition resources on to help you make healthy eating decisions based on the new MyPlate model. Resources include healthy eating on a budgetsample menu plans and the SuperTracker, a tool to track your progress against food and fitness-related goals.

Midwest Dairy Council registered dietitian Carolyn Hudson recommends you to visualize your meal and suggests starting with a glass of ice cold, low-fat white or chocolate milk. Select other nutrient-rich foods, starting with a piece of lemon grilled salmon about the size of a deck of cards. Then reserve half of your plate for vibrantly colored vegetables, a mound of whole grains about the size of a tennis ball. Finally, finish your meal with a bowl of colorful pieces of your favorite fruit.

“Choosing your meals should be fun and tasty,” Hudson says. “Be sure to include plenty of color and pour one more dairy serving every day. Not only is this a positive focus on what to eat, but it’s also a good way to narrow your nutrient gap.”

Did you know that milk delivers more than just calcium to your diet? Not everybody does.

“Many people know about milk’s calcium benefits, but most are unaware that dairy foods deliver eight other dietary nutrients considered ‘essential’ by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA),” says Hudson.

Eating healthy is about more than just watching the calorie count. “It’s important to get essential nutrients from the foods we eat,” she says, “because the human body can’t manufacture them in sufficient quantities to meet daily needs.”

Consuming three daily servings of dairy foods, such as milk, cheese or yogurt, provides exceptional nutritional value. For example, milk provides significant amounts of vitamin D, protein, potassium and vitamin B12. From repairing muscle tissue to maintaining healthy red blood cells, the nutrients found in dairy foods work together to help support optimal health.

Enjoy the great taste and benefits of dairy with these delicious dishes. Get the whole story of dairy’s unique nutrient package, and find more recipes, at

This entry was posted in Food Facts, Healthy Living, Midwest Dairy Association. Bookmark the permalink.

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