MyPlate Food Groups

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We asked Communicating Food for Health subscriber, Gayle Coleman, MS, RD, Program Leader, Michigan State University Extension, to share her creative teaching ideas for using MyPlate.

MyPlate On A Budget

Introduce the topic of meeting MyPlate recommendations on a limited budget by displaying sets of food and having individuals try to arrange the foods in each set from least expensive per serving to most expensive per serving. Discuss the cost of items that surprised them and work together to generate a list of the “best buys” in each food group. Costs may vary in your area, but generally, these foods are the most reasonable: store-brand ready-to-eat cornmeal and pasta, plain hot cereals, regular rice, potatoes, carrots, onions, cabbage, tomato sauce or paste, applesauce, bananas, kiwi, fruits and vegetables in season, milk, dry peas and beans, whole chicken and peanut butter.

MyPlate Food Group Lesson - How Much?

Bring empty food packages, food models or food photos (that have nutrition facts on the back) to class. Have individuals find a combination of foods that meet 100 percent of the Daily Value for a nutrient, such as calcium.

Ask them, “What types of foods had the largest amounts of this nutrient?” “Approximately how many servings of these foods do you need to get 100 percent of the Daily Value?” This activity also helps individuals understand the relationship between the nutrition information on food labels and MyPlate. We think it is especially important to use examples from the dairy case to help individuals that not all dairy products are created the same. Many are high in sodium, sugar rand saturated fat and are not that high in calcium.

MyPlate Puzzle

To demonstrate why foods are classified into food groups, make a large round plate-shaped puzzle out of foam board, using a razor-type knife, showing a color representation of slices the same as for MyPlate.

Use orange for the grain group, green for the vegetable group, red for the fruit group, blue for the milk group, purple for the protein group, and yellow for oils. Label individual puzzle pieces with key nutrients, showing which groups contain the most fiber. Piece together the “nutrients” in the order they are used in MyPlate and help individuals visualize the fact that they can meet key nutrient needs by following MyPlate recommendations. Puzzle pieces can be adhered to one large board using Velcro(tm) tape.

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