In this country, we typically focus meals around some type of protein – meat, chicken, fish, eggs, seafood, or a casserole with one of these items as the main ingredient. Really though, we should be focusing healthy eating on the fruits and veggies, with protein as a side dish.
The typical Mediterranean diet that is the focus on a number of books and eating plans today, follows this healthier approach. It focuses on fresh fruits and vegetables, plus whole grains and sometimes a protein on the side. Meat is not the focus of most Mediterranean meals, unlike in the U.S.
The same is true of Far East diets. They consist mainly of vegetables and whole grains, along with a small amount of protein, usually soy or fish-based. Both Mediterranean and Easter peoples live longer, healthier lives than Americans, on average. In fact, the U.S. is ranked a disappointing 36th in overall life expectancy!
Much of the reason for our low ranking is the U.S. diet, which results in higher rates of obesity and greater chance of life-shortening chronic illnesses. When the U.S.D.A. revised the dietary guidelines recently, they introduced a model called “My Plate” (www.ChooseMyPlate.gov). The “ideal” meal defined by the MyPlate model should consist of about 1/4 of calories from fruits, 1/4 from vegetables, 1/4 from grains and 1/4 from proteins. This model makes fruits and veggies about 1/2 of the ideal meal, a far cry from the typical American meal.
So, how can we address this issue and get people eating healthier? It starts by taking the emphasis off of the protein component and focusing more on fruits and vegetables. Instead of a big steak or 1/2 pound burger, try serving a smaller steak or burger. Then make up the difference with a big salad or cooked vegetables. Instead of a rich, sweet dessert like ice cream or cake, try fresh fruit. Just making these small changes can result in a big difference.
We suggest that, if you haven’t already done so, review the MyPlate model. It can be found at www.ChooseMyPlate.gov, along with lots of ideas for healthy meals.
Do You Wish Your Kid’s Ate Better? Check out our FREE eBook at www.HealthFamilyFuture.com. Many of the strategies in this book can be used by both children and adults.
Remember, healthy choices you make each day can transform your family for generations! What choices will you make today?
You many also want to read: New “MyPlate” Makes it Easier to Eat Healthy, Where’s the Fiber