Back to Basics: MyPlate


Myth: “Sack lunches from home are always healthier than school meals.”

Fact: You can make healthy choices in the lunch line at school or pack a not-so-healthy lunch from foods found in your pantry at home. It’s not so much where your lunch comes from, but what it is you’re eating! The key is to actively make those healthy choices when deciding what you’re going to eat for lunch. Just remember to choose whole grain breads and cereals, lean meats and protein foods, low-fat dairy products, healthy fats, and lots of fruits and veggies! Limit bad fats like pre-packaged baked goods and empty calories from sugary drinks and your lunch will be healthy and nutritious whether it comes from a brown bag or a cafeteria line!

Sports Nutrition 101

Back to the Basics – MyPlate
As the school year is getting ready to start, it’s time to brush up on your Sports Nutrition! We’re taking it back to the basics with the United States Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate. MyPlate is a visual representation of how much to eat of the different food groups in the form of a plate. We’re going to break down each of the food groups to show why including foods from each group are necessary for your body to function and perform at optimal potential.

Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables should cover most of your plate at lunch and dinner and can be included in snacks throughout the day. This food group provides important vitamins and minerals that are essential to your body’s daily functions and training needs. The different colors of fruits and vegetables contain different properties called antioxidants and phytochemicals which can help fight off disease and keep you healthy around the clock, and especially during your season. Incorporating multiple colors of fruits and vegetables at meals and snacks is a great way to make sure you are getting all the benefits of all the colors. Fruits and vegetables also have a high water content that can aid in hydration, particularly in the hot months.

The grain food group is what your body uses the most for energy throughout the day and to fuel your workouts. Grains include foods like breads, rolls, wraps, cereals, pasta, rice, crackers, oatmeal, and potatoes. Whole grain varieties are the best options to choose as they have more fiber and nutrients than refined grain products and give you sustained energy to keep you working hard. It’s important to have a whole grain product (or another type of carbohydrate like fruit) with your meal before a workout to give you that sustained energy to get you through practice.

Protein is the food group that influences muscle recovery and repair after exercise. Protein foods can be animal proteins (meat, poultry, seafood, eggs), vegetable proteins (beans, pea, nuts, seeds) and soy products. Dairy products also have some protein. Lean proteins, such as 93% lean ground beef, top loin, tenderloin, skinless chicken breasts, and fish, are the best options as they are lower in saturated fat. Protein should be included at all meals and snacks, but especially post-exercise, with adequate carbohydrate, to jump start the recovery process when your muscles are most sensitive and in need of repair.

All fluid milk products, as well as foods made from milk are found in the dairy group. Low fat or fat free options of milk, yogurt, and cheeses are the preferred choices when selecting dairy products. Dairy foods can be used as a part of snacks or included in meals. Dairy products have essential nutrients for bone health, such as calcium, vitamin D, and phosphorus, which help to build and maintain strong bones. Because dairy foods contain carbohydrate, protein, and some fat, they are great to include in a pre- or post-workout snack. Low fat chocolate milk is an ideal post- workout snack as it has carbohydrate and a little fat for energy, protein for muscle repair, and vitamins and minerals for rehydration and recovery.

The final group is oil or fat. Although it is not depicted in the MyPlate visual, fat and oils are a part of every athlete’s diet. Fat has the most calories per gram and can be used as fuel during exercise. However, fat slows down digestion more than any other nutrient so you want to make sure to eat small amounts of fat during the day and around workouts as to not slow you down. In your diet, you want to include more of the “good fats” such as nuts, seeds, flaxseed, peanut butter, olive oil, avocado, and omega-3 rich fish. Try to limit the “bad fats” such as fried foods, pastries, creamy sauces and dressings, full-fat sour cream, cream cheese, and mayonnaise.

Healthy Bites…Recipe of the Month (page 2 of insert)

Brown Bag School Lunch Ideas

“MyPlate: your Brown Bag”
Back to school doesn’t have to mean back to boring brown bag lunches. By using USDA’s MyPlate, you can create lots of different lunch options that meet your nutrition needs. Start thinking outside the “bag”!
You want half your lunch to be fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables provide valuable vitamins and minerals to help with many of your body’s functions. Packing a variety of colors keeps the options endless.
When packing carbohydrates for lunch, make sure to choose whole grain options. Carbohydrates are your body’s primary source of fuel. Branch out from the typical lunch carbs of bread and chips and try a cup of brown rice, whole grain pasta, quinoa, or a whole wheat wrap.
Protein is important for your body to repair and rebuild muscles. Lean proteins in lunches are usually luncheon meat on sandwiches, but try a grilled chicken breast cut into strips, tuna packed in water, hardboiled egg, or even beans as a source of protein.
Dairy products provide carbohydrates, protein, and some fat and are essential for helping to build and maintain strong bones. On MyPlate, dairy is shown as a side item, which can include low fat milk, yogurt, or cheese.

Lunch #1: Whole wheat penne pasta with spinach and mushrooms; hardboiled egg; low fat milk; sliced watermelon

Lunch #2: Whole grain pita stuffed with chopped grilled chicken breast, baby spinach leaves, diced tomatoes and cucumber and light dressing; 2 clementines; Greek yogurt

Lunch #3: Three bean soup; brown rice; 2% string cheese; baby carrots and grape tomatoes; berries (raspberries, blueberries, blackberries)

–Amy Goodson

amy-goodson-quarterback-ranchAmy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD is a registered dietitian for Ben Hogan Sports Medicine and serves as the sports dietitian for the Dallas Cowboys, Texas Rangers, FC Soccer Dallas, Jim McClean Golf School, Texas Christian University Athletics, and University of Texas at Arlington Athletics. In addition, she is an adjunct professor and dietetic intern preceptor for Texas Woman’s University, Texas Christian University and the University of Texas at Arlington and is a state media representative for the Texas Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. . She received her Bachelor of Science degree in speech communications from Texas Christian University and Masters in Exercise and Sports Nutrition from Texas Woman’s University.