The Food Journal and Food, Nutrition & Science

An alliance between The Lempert Report and The Center for Food Integrity

Balance Your Family’s Nutrition with MyPlate

Balance Your Family’s Nutrition with MyPlate

Dietitian Dialogues

February 24, 2013

By Jodi Schweiger RD, LD, CDE

Society’s demands are challenging women to find balance with work, family, activities and planning meals. At Hy-Vee, a Midwest grocery store chain, women and their families are seeking healthier ways to feed their families, with hopes of bringing nutritional balance to their plates.

So you might be wondering, “How can I start feeding my family healthier?” It really can be very simple by following MyPlateTM, creating menus and generating a shopping list. MyPlateTM is a tool that I teach to all my clients. The plate method is very visual and can be applied even when going out to restaurants. 

Following MyPlateTM will help bring balance from all the important food groups. Keep in mind variety is very important, especially varying colors from our fruits and vegetables. A variety of colors brings extremely powerful antioxidants that can be crucial for good health.

MyPlate™ Tips

1. Consider the size of your plate. Try using a 9-inch plate as a way to reduce portion size and calories.

2. Review the food groups; What foods fit into each section?

  • Visually divide the plate or bowl in half.
  • Fill half of the plate with veggies and/or fruit.
  • Fill one-quarter of the plate with lean meat or protein.
  • Fill one-quarter of the plate with grains, including whole grains as much as possible.
  • Add one serving of low-fat milk, yogurt or cheese.

3. Know proper portion sizes for each MyPlate™ section. You still need to measure!

4. Focus on whole, low-fat foods:

  • fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables
  • whole grains
  • fresh, lean protein
  • skim milk, reduced-fat cheese and nonfat yogurt

After familiarizing yourself with MyPlateTM, now you are able to start building your menus for the week. I encourage women to include the family in planning meals and to pick out a few new fruits, vegetables and whole grains to try each week like star fruit, jicama or quinoa. Once your menus are complete, you can create a shopping list to ensure you have everything you need for success.

Here are examples of how to make MyPlate™ work for you:

Family Dinner:

Whole wheat spaghetti noodles topped with meat sauce, side of leafy green salad with cherry tomatoes, glass of skim milk, and broiled pineapple for dessert.

Brown Bag Lunch:

Sandwich – whole wheat bread, turkey, low-fat cheese and fresh vegetables, side of baby carrots, and 2 clementines.

Quick Breakfast:

Parfait – nonfat yogurt layered with berries, granola and sliced almonds, and a banana on the side.

At Hy-Vee we have resources available for our shoppers to make this process even easier. On our website, we have weekly menu suggestions written by dietitians that provide one week’s worth of evening meals with a simple recipe and nutrient analysis for each meal, while also providing a shopping list for the week. Our mobile app has been extremely useful to find recipes and use the weekly menus and shopping list while you are on-the-go.

With over 200 Hy-Vee stores with registered dietitians, our mission is making lives easier, healthier and happier. Hy-Vee offers nutrition store tours, consultations, lunch presentations, cooking classes and much more. Finding a dietitian is simple; just visit our website at and click on health and then click on Hy-Vee Dietitians to search for a Hy-Vee dietitian near you.

Jodi Schweiger RD, LD, CDE, received a Bachelor of Science degree from Iowa State University and completed a dietetic internship program at Iowa State University. Jodi is a Certified Diabetes Educator and a health coach. Jodi also has completed CDR Certificate of Training in Adult Weight Management. She is an insulin pump trainer. Jodi has ten years of experience as a Hy-Vee dietitian and her specialties include diabetes, weight loss, hyperlipidemia, hypertension, and basic nutrition counseling.