What the New American Food Icon Means for Women with PCOS
Say goodbye to the food guide pyramid and hello to MyPlate. Yesterday, the USDA announced the launch of the new food icon for Americans and it's a circle, not a triangle. MyPlate is a food icon with the intent to prompt consumers to think about building a healthy plate at meal times.
The new MyPlate icon emphasizes fruit, vegetable, grains, protein and dairy food groups (click on a particular food group on the plate for servings and suggestions) and provides the following recommendations:
- Enjoy your food, but eat less.
- avoid oversized portions.
Foods to Increase
- Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
- Make at least half your grains whole grains.
- Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.
Foods to Reduce
- Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals • and choose the foods with lower numbers.
- Drink water instead of sugary drinks.
For more information about MyPlate visit www.ChooseMyPlate.gov.
Here are our pros and cons of this new icon and how it relates to PCOS:
- Simple and practical to use. The plate method as it's been known among dietitian's, is much more visual, simple and practical for people to follow. Women with PCOS can use this icon to balance food on their plates at meals at pretty much any eating situation, home or at a restaurant. This method, applied to the PCOS population, is described in The PCOS Workbook: Your Guide to Complete Physical and Emotional Health.
- Encourages less eating. Notice how the food groups don't extend to the edge of the plate. The idea is to cut back on portions across the board, filling up on more on the nutrient powerhouses, fruits and vegetables.
- Focus is on more fruits and vegetables. Let's face it, most people don't get enough fruits and vegetables each day. There are reasons why we are encouraged to eat more of these foods: fruits and vegetables are necessary for good health and prevention of chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease. Fruits and vegetables contain the nutrients women with PCOS need to improve their insulin levels.
- No space on the plate or recommendations for fat. There is no mention on the plate of where dietary fat fits in. Perhaps this could lead to an overconsumption of fat intake. It would have been nice to see the plate encourage the intake of unsaturated fats, particularly from omega-3 fats such as fish.
- Recommends at least half your grains whole. This has been a message USDA has been trying to get across for over a decade. Grains that aren't whole offer empty calories. Saying at least allows too much room for refined carbohydrates. The message should be to make all our grains whole or mostly whole.
- May be too many carbohydrates for women with PCOS. Notice that the only food group on the plate that doesn't contain carbohydrates is the protein group? Depending on their nutrition goals, some women with PCOS and insulin resistance may find eating this amount of carbohydrates at once to be detrimental.
Some final recommendations to consider: MyPlate is a guide to encourage healthy eating and can't factor in everyone's health status. Women with PCOS can incorporate the key messages of MyPlate by distributing carbohydrate foods (fruit, dairy, vegetables) evenly throughout the day for optimal health.
What do you think of MyPlate? What influence will it have on your eating habits?