Ask a Nurse: Make Your Plate

Pamela is an RN, MSN/Ed.

Pamela is a mother of 6 amazing children ages 11 to 24. She is a nurse educator and loves to travel overseas to work in medical clinics and teach health-related topics to schools and communities. She has been married to her best friend, Steve, for 29 years. She has many different interests including reading, writing (NOT arithmetic!), baking, teaching, and spending time with her family. She lives in central Pennsylvania with her husband and two youngest daughters.

Make your plate…Great!

March is national nutrition month; let’s end it with a commitment to “get your plate in shape,” which is the theme this year. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics wants you to pause before each meal to make sure you’re eating the healthiest foods in the right amounts and in the right balance. Ask yourself these questions:

Is half or more of my plate fruits or vegetables?

Is no more than one-quarter of my plate grains, preferably whole grains?

Is the remaining quarter lean protein about the size of a deck of cards?

Some other suggestions are to switch to skim or 1% milk and to vary your protein choices by choosing seafood, beans, peas, and nuts as well as lean meats, poultry, and eggs.

These tips are based on the new “my plate” program that has replaced the food pyramid. It was felt that the food pyramid was confusing to many people. The “plate” system is simple; you divide a 9” dinner plate into these sections:

If you have diabetes or other dietary restrictions, the MyPlate system is easy to adapt to your needs. To increase your success, be sure to add adequate amounts of exercise throughout the week. Adults should aim for 2 hours and 30 minutes per week of activity that requires moderate effort (such as brisk walking or swimming laps). Children and teens should get 60 minutes or more each day. Studies have found that even doing 10 minutes at a time will reap benefits.

Try using the MyPlate system and tell me what you think! Email me at

Be Well,

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