Importance of a Balanced Diet

The way we eat, drink, and fuel our bodies is important and can have an effect on our overall health. Since March is National Nutrition Month, we want to celebrate it by recognizing the importance of eating a healthy, well-balanced diet. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, around 50% of American adults suffer from at least one chronic disease that is often related to unhealthy eating patterns. So what can we do about it? How can we improve that statistic?

MyPlate

The USDA published their 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines that focuses on improving healthy eating habits and can be reflected in the MyPlate tool they created. It replaces the outdated food pyramid and makes it much easier to make healthy eating choices. 

  • Fill half of your plate with fruits and vegetables
    • Vary the vegetables
    • Focus on whole fruit (not fruit juice)
  • Make half of your grains whole grains
  • Lower your dairy fat content to 1% or fat free
  • Vary your protein routine (eat seafood, substitute beans, etc.)
  • Consume less sodium, saturated fats, and added sugars

According to the latest dietary guidelines, from both the United States and Canada, people who follow the above practice have a lowered risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and even some cancers. Visit MyPlate for a full visual representation of what eating healthy can look like and to gain more information about each food group. MyPlate also has fun tools and tips to make healthy eating more fun!

Take the MyPlate Challenge

  1. Share your healthy eating habits. Follow the MyPlate guides from above and take a picture of your plate.
  2. Share on your social media, along with the recipe you used. Inspire your friends to do the same.
  3. Tag @MyPlate and @HaysFoodBank to show us your good work. If we see it, we will share it. Don’t forget to also tag someone in your life who you think needs a boost in the right direction to eat healthy.
  4. Let’s try to change the way our society eats. Social media is such a large part of our lives, so let’s use it to do some good.

The Food Bank’s Fight for Good Nutrition

So now that we know what the USDA is doing to try and correct our nation’s eating habits, what is Hays County Food Bank doing? We provide a variety of foods, including fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and proteins to food insecure families in the area through 7 public food distributions and to ~25 partner agencies. Our goal is to have at least 1/3 of what we offer to clients be fresh produce. In 2018, we distributed over 315,000 pounds of fruits and vegetables or about 38% of what we gave out in total!

The food bank also visits local programs to teach nutrition education. The food bank offers a Senior Nutrition & Wellness class where seniors participate in light stretching exercises, watch a food demonstration, and learn a valuable nutrition lesson such as the dangers of inflammation and what foods can contribute to and prevent it. There is also a Child Nutrition Engagement Program where the food bank gives a nutrition lesson, such as the importance of vitamins, plays a game with the kids to reinforce the lesson, and demonstrates how to make a healthy snack. Lastly, we teach hands-on cooking classes where we prepare and eat a low-cost and budget-friendly meal together. 

Would you like to sign up for one of our cooking classes? Click here!

Your Turn

What will you do to celebrate National Nutrition Month?

  • Take the MyPlate Challenge?
  • Attend one of our cooking classes?
  • Try a new vegetable or fruit each week?
  • Get rid of added sugars for 30 days?
  • Abstain from takeout for a month?
  • Something else?

Good luck on your nutrition journey! We’d love to hear the ways you are taking control of your health when it comes to food.

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About Hays County Food Bank

We are passionately committed to improving lives through food assistance programs, nutrition education, and advocacy.

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