By any standards, I was a fat child. So much so that at 29 months old, I was dubbed Mighty Mite by a front page article in the Galveston Daily News. They ran the article because I was the fattest kid my age in all of Galveston County. People at the time thought “a fat baby is a healthy baby.” Now we know a fat baby often is not a healthy baby and much more likely to be a fat and unhealthy adult. In 2012, 1 in 3 children are obese. Mission Readiness, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization run by retired military leaders dedicated to investing in America’s youth, discovered that today, 27% of 17- to 24-year-olds, some 9 million, are too fat to meet the basic minimum standards required for military service because they are too fat. They fear obesity as a national security issue.
I was very fortunate; I was able to change my exercise level, my diet, and ultimately my body size. Today, I’m at my ideal body weight. But that was not an accident. It took a conscious decision on my part to change my dietary habits – both what food choices I made and how much of it I ate. The US Department of Health has addressed America’s growing obesity epidemic by giving us a simple, objective way to look at the food we eat. It’s called MyPlate. Click here for my video on portion control and MyPlate.
The image of MyPlate is a plate divided into 4 parts. Something as simple as knowing how much of which food to put on our plate has the potential to curb obesity, lower the rate of heart disease and diabetes, and improve our chances for a longer and healthier life.
MyPlate is much easier to understand than the Food Pyramid system, which it replaced. It’s much easier to use than the Ornish diet, the Atkins diet or the South Park diet. If we pay attention to MyPlate, we don’t have to consider any of these or any other dietary approaches or measure ounces of food. This new approach was released last year, and can be found at http://www.dietaryguidelines.gov. These recommendations promote health, reduce the risk of chronic disease and represent an effort to decrease the obesity epidemic in the United States with improved nutrition and physical activity. You can find lots of great recipes in my cookbook Eat to Defeat Menopause.
The new food pyramid is a very simple image of a plate divided into four parts. These 4 unequal quadrants represent vegetables, fruits, grains, and protein with a circle (representing the top view of a glass) off to the side to represent dairy. You can find an image of this at http://www.ChooseMyPlate.gov. Basically, the plate is divided with half of the plate containing fruits and vegetables. One of the two remaining quadrants contains grains (primarily whole grains) such as rice, bread or cereal, and the final quadrant contains proteins including meat, fish, poultry, beans, soy or eggs.
MyPlate primarily follows the Mediterranean diet. That diet is high in legumes, grains, nuts, fish, fruits, and vegetables but is low in dairy and red meats. I was recently able to visit the Pompeii exhibit at Boston’s Museum of science, and was pleasantly surprised to find that in 79 A.D., the diet we are discovering today was already very well established. Another observation that was present in 79 A.D. that we can also learn from today was the fact that the size of a plate was much smaller than the ones we eat from in most kitchens in 2012. So cleaning your plate meant you were eating a lot fewer calories.
This diet is very high in monosaturated fatty acids and low in saturated fatty acids. Scientists analyzed 12 pre-existing scientific studies and combined their total results. This is called a meta–analysis study and it involving over 1.5 million people. showed that the more one adhered to a Mediterranean-type diet the lower the incidence of death and cancer. Of course, My Plate alone won’t solve the problem of obesity and rising rates of obesity and heart disease. But the plate is one more step in carrying out the message that includes encouraging people to enjoy your food but eat less, switch to fat-free or low-fat milk, choose foods lower in sodium, make at least half your grains whole grains and drink water instead of sugary drinks. It’s time to make MyPlate your plate.
Machelle (Mache) Seibel, MD is one of America’s top health communicators. Whether speaking, consulting, writing or composing he teaches people the health information they need and the perspective they require to stay well. His passion is to help America stay well. “It’s better to stay well than to get well.” Professor and Director, Complicated Menopause Program, University of Massachusetts Medical School 2004-Present Founder of HealthRock®, reshaping health education with music and entertainment Harvard Medical School faculty nearly two decades Past Medical Director, Inverness Medical Innovations (now Alere) 2008 Recipient, Ashbel Smith Distinguished Alumnus Award, the University of Texas Medical Branch’s highest honor Multiple national awards for research, writing, music and patient education received Author/editor 14 books, over 200 scientific articles, past editor-in-chief of the medical journal Sexuality, Reproduction & Menopause Advisory board of Dr. Mehmet Oz’s HealthCorps initiative to fight childhood obesity Repeatedly voted into Best Doctors in America Hosted PBS and NYC TV episodes, frequent media expert http://www.doctorseibel.com/
More from VividLife.me bloggers:
When I hear Louis Armstrong sing What A Wonderful World, my body automatically relaxes. Now studies are proving it’s more than a feeling. Music can be a powerful tool to lower stress and high blood pressure. According to HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), 85% of primary care visits are attributed in part to stress. So it’s pretty exciting that stress symptoms such as high blood pressure, pain and maybe even hot flashes can be improved with music.
Amazing Apple Cider Vinegar with Brigitte Mars
With many people lacking health and its insurance we can remember ancient folk wisdom that served our ancestors! Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, used apple cider vinegar as an internal cleansing agent. Before refrigerators, vinegar was used as a food preservative. The word vinegar is from the French, vin aigre or “sour wine.” Apple cider vinegar prepared by the fermentation of apple cider and allowed to mature naturally in wooden barrels. During fermentation, sugar