What Does Your Plate Look Like?


By: Charlotte Caldwell
TRICARE Management Activity

What good is eating a well-balanced meal? There are many reasons good nutrition matters. Eating a well-balanced diet is a key element in the prevention or treatment of serious health conditions like diabetes, heart disease and obesity. Healthy eating helps bodies perform better and boosts the immune system. Feeling fatigued? Sometimes its diet related. Good nutrition gives the body energy.

“Good nutrition is essential for supporting overall physical and mental health,” said Dr. Andrew Plummer, TRICARE Population Health branch chief. “Everyone can benefit from good nutrition, especially our deployed active duty service and their family members who support them while maintaining busy lives at home.”
With so much information about dieting and healthy eating available, learning about good nutrition can certainly be overwhelming. Where is a good place to start?

“First, being aware of what a nutritious diet consists of is very important,” said Plummer. “The dietary guidelines here in the United States recommend a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free and low-fat dairy products for people aged 2 years and older. The guidelines also recommend that children, adolescents and adults limit intake of solid fats (major sources of saturated fats).”

My Plate, designed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), illustrates the dietary guidelines in a way that’s easy for consumers to understand. ChooseMyPlate.gov has tips for building a healthy plate, cutting back on unhealthy foods, getting the right amount of calories and more. The My Plate icon reminds consumers what a healthy plate should look like at meal time when each healthy food group is included.

“What you eat at every meal should start with carefully reading food and beverage labels.  So remember to read before you buy and certainly before you bite,” said Plummer. “Once you’re aware of what you should be eating then the key is to plan your meals so that you can achieve your nutritional goals. Packing nutritious snacks for example, will satisfy hunger between meals and make it less likely you'll become so hungry that you consume more food at your next meal than you intended.”

My Plate teaches consumers how to read nutrition labels on packaged food, how to eat healthy on a budget, how to prepare nutritious recipes and design meal plans. Go to www.ChooseMyPlate.gov for more of these helpful tips and healthy eating information.

TRICARE supports good nutrition and healthy lifestyles through Operation Live Well (OLW). The OLW campaign aims to improve healthy living throughout the military community by promoting healthy eating, active living and weight management, tobacco cessation and mental and spiritual wellbeing. The OLW website provides information and resources to encourage healthy living choices. There are apps and widgets for meal planning, stress management, quitting smoking and more. For more information go to www.militaryonesource.mil/olw.

“Good nutrition starts with making healthy choices. Knowing how to make healthy choices is the first step,” Plummer said. “Following dietary guidelines and the My Plate tips and advice helps service members and their families enjoy a healthy lifestyle.”

For more tips and advice for eating healthy go to www.ChooseMyPlate.gov. For more healthy living tips and information go to www.tricare.mil/livewell.

Last Updated 1/7/2015