As five year review of USDA ‘Choose My Plate’ program approaches, MedNetOne Health Solutions registered dietitians offer five suggested modifications for better clarification and categorization of food options

MNOHS logo 7-1-2013

Media Contact: Barbara Fornasiero, EAFocus Communications, cell: 586-817-8414, barbara@eafocus.com

Rochester, Mich. – April 4, 2014 – Registered Dietitians (RDs) with MedNetOne Health Solutions (MNOHS), a Michigan-based healthcare management organization serving the infrastructure and clinical support needs of private practice physicians and behavior health specialists, are looking for increased clarification and reclassification of food categories in the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) five year review of the ‘Choose My Plate’ program, scheduled to be updated in 2015.

‘Choose My Plate’ replaced the traditional food pyramid used to help Americans make proper food choices and is part of a larger communication initiative by the USDA to help consumers make better food choices based on 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. ‘Choose My Plate’ illustrates five food groups using the familiar mealtime visual of a place setting and serves to remind Americans to eat healthfully by providing nutritional recommendations based on age, gender and activity level.

“The USDA’s ‘Choose My Plate’ program is a terrific way to convey healthy eating habits for the average consumer and, for the most part, it is an excellent education tool,” said Samantha Ponitz, a registered dietitian with MedNetOne Health Solutions. “However, I believe there are foods that need to be reclassified and other categories that need increased clarification to aid in Americans making healthier food choices.”

Specifically, Ponitz and her dietitian colleagues at MedNetOne Health Solutions would like to see the following updates:

1. Include cheese as a protein source. Cheese is currently only included in the dairy section, yet most cheeses provide approximately eight grams of protein per serving. Low fat cheese should be highlighted as an excellent source of calcium and Vitamin D to help keep bones strong.

2. While the USDA encourages the consumption of unsalted nuts/seeds, the MedNetOne Health Solutions RDs would like it noted that canned beans (legumes) are high in sodium and consumers should opt for low sodium versions of these foods and/or rinse canned beans (legumes) well before consuming.

“It should be noted that many processed soy products are high in sodium and should be consumed in moderation,” said Ponitz.

3. Better clarification on calories in the diary section, specifically regarding ice cream, frozen yogurt and pudding.

“Extra calories and fat in these types of dairy products count against an individual’s maximum limit of ‘empty calorie’ foods for the day and this currently is not clear in the ‘Choose My Plate’ program. This should be communicated better,” said Ponitz.

4. Better sugar and calorie clarification on fruit juice, currently listed in the fruit section of the ‘Choose My Plate’ program.

“While fruit juice does provide vitamins and minerals, it is a sugary beverage and lacks the fiber whole fruits have. Fiber helps keep you full and sustains energy throughout the day so individuals should limit fruit juice to no more than one serving (4 oz.) per day,” said Ponitz.

5. Enhanced clarification on starchy vs. non-starchy vegetables.

“Many starchy vegetables are important for a balanced diet, however I would like to see the USDA distinguish better between starchy and non-starchy vegetables,” said Ponitz. “Starchy vegetables, such as corn, peas and potatoes, should be counted in the grain/starch group because they have similar nutritional characteristics; specifically, they are both considered carbohydrates whereas non-starchy vegetables are not.”

To learn more about the ‘Choose My Plate’ program, visit the USDA website here.

About MedNetOne Health Solutions:
MedNetOne Health Solutions (MNOHS), a leader in advancing the development and implementation of the Patient-Centered Medial Home (PCMH), is a health care management organization for primary and specialty care physicians and behavioral health specialists that provides administrative infrastructure and clinical support and programming to develop and sustain high performing, patient-centric practices while meeting government healthcare reform mandates. Learn more at http://www.mednetone.net.

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