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Running head: MY PLATE 1

Choose My Plate

Jessica Batayola

Arizona State University

PPE 310: Healthy Learning Communities

Dr. Jennifer Houston

Choose My Plate Assignment

October 22, 2017


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Choose My Plate

Good nutrition and good eating habits are one of the most significant components to good

overall health. In the days of yesteryear, the USDA food pyramid was the leading guideline for

calculating healthy food intake. Today, the food pyramid has been replaced with MyPlate.

MyPlate offers additional resources and information, as well as a curriculum in order to help

teach healthy habits to children in fun and easy to understand ways.

Also developed by the USDA, MyPlate uses a graphic image similar to the food pyramid

for easy visual understanding. The MyPlate graphic depicts a place setting, with a dinner plate

and glass. The plate is segmented into four groups, and the glass represents a group of its own.

The place setting represents the same food groups one would recognize from the food pyramid:

grains, proteins, fruits, vegetables, and dairy.

A supplement to MyPlate that can aid in tracking ones nutrition can be found at the

USDA MyPlate website; a supplement called Food Tracker (USDA, 2017). Food Tracker allows

an individual to input daily food intake data to develop an assessment of the nutritional value of

ones meal.

This paper will serve as an example of how MyPlate Food Tracker can be used to

evaluate the nutritional value of input data as well as detail how a sample individual can use this

data to make healthy meal choices in the future. Information gathered from a sample individual

was input in MyPlate Food Tracker. The data retrieved will be reviewed, discussed, and

compared to national dietary guidelines for Americans. Additionally, this paper will highlight

how information gathered from Food Tracker can allow leadership to promote healthy meal
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choices throughout a workplace. Lastly, environment and accessibility to healthy food choices

relative to the sample individuals local will be reviewed and reflected upon.

Sample Individual - Jessica

Jessica works for Starbucks Coffee Company, 30 hours a week. She is active for 60+

minutes a day performing moderate to rigorous activity. Her current health goals include

attempting to gain both muscle mass and overall weight, as she has dealt with a hyperactive

thyroid disorder that has challenged her ability to maintain healthy levels of fat storage. In

attempts to reach this goal, her daily calorie intake must exceed 2600 calories.

In order to maintain this caloric intake, Jessica attempts to intake roughly 800 calories per

meal, supplemented with snacks throughout the day. Below readers will find an example of a

breakfast and lunch menu that depicts Jessicas eating habits for one day. This sample day is

representative of a typical menu, about 4 days a week, for Jessica, for these day parts.
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According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020, 8th edition, the average

31 year old active female should intake about 2200 calories per day (ODPHP, 2017). With a daily

goal of 2600 calories, and considering Jessica may fall outside of the normal category with her

health history, Jessica meets this standard. That being said, caloric intake needs to be backed by

nutrition in order to be considered healthy. The following graph breaks down Jessicas menu per

food group, allowing readers to visualize the discrepancies between MyPlate ideals [dietary

guidelines] and this specific menu.

This graph highlights the food groups in which Jessicas diet is lacking when using this

menu. Breaking this data down further, the following table describes nutrients available from this

menu.
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Using dietary guidelines to evaluate Jessicas menu, it is observed that the fruits and

vegetables food groups are the greatest opportunity for improvement in creating healthy eating

habits. The table also highlights some significant dietary issues. For a menu that doesn't include

anything that sounds notably sweet, the menu provides a significant amount of sugars. These are

products of the milk (half and half) consumed at every meal. Additionally, both total and

saturated fat percentages are high.

These high percentages appear to be purposeful when considering what Jessica described

about her current goal: to gain weight. Yet, intaking fat is not the only way to increase body

weight, and further pathways should be explored. One such path would be to increase protein

intake to aid in muscle development/growth.


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When you eat a food that contains protein, your body breaks the protein molecules in

the food down into the amino acids theyre comprised of, and then uses those amino

acids to build its own proteins. If you eat too few grams of protein every day, your body

can become deficient in the amino acids it needs to build and repair muscle, and thus,

muscle growth becomes impaired, (Mathews, 2013).

Additionally, more fruits need to added to the menu. By simply adding a fruit smoothie, available

to Jessica daily at her place of business, Jessica can add a significant amount of calcium,

potassium, and other nutrients to her diet. These specific smoothies contain two servings of fruit.

Smoothies do run the risk of added sugar, so this beverage may need to substitute a milk

beverage; Jessicas daily dairy intake can be reduced by almost 6oz. during these two meals and

still meet daily needs after dinner is considered (USDA, 2017). Vegetable intake can be increased

by use of the same beverage used to increase fruit intake. By adding 1-2 servings of kale and/or

spinach to the smoothie, Jessica can easily reach the target of 2 cups per day (as depicted in

graph above).

Leadership and Environment

Working at a food establishment, conversations about health and wellness are

commonplace. The tools, resources, and information discussed and gained above can aid

leadership in promoting factual and relevant conversations around the workplace. As a Starbucks

employee, one is allowed to consume free beverages daily, with no limit on the quantity.

Additionally, one free food item is allowed per employee, per day. This kind of freedom can be

dangerous to ones health when surrounded by sugars, fats, and high calorie snacks. Introducing

Food Tracker to employees can provide them with information the nutrition labels don't quite
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relate. For example, many of Jessicas employees probably do not consider the amount of sugar

in the milk they consume daily. The breakdown the Food Tracker provides informs users of

where exactly the sugars in their diet are coming from. This knowledge can then be translated to

their personal life. Over 70% of Jessicas staff are parents. Sharing this program with their

children, who may even know more about it then them, can be a wonderful bonding experience

as well as can teach valuable life lessons. The interactive, individualized approach to Food

Tracker can be fun for a family to do together if approached properly.

Pinpointing the areas of opportunity for employees in Jessicas workplace is just one side

of the Food Tracker coin. Motivating and encouraging good behaviors can come from tracking

ones diet as well. Jessicas Starbucks is located next to a McDonalds and across the street from

Burger King. Less than two blocks away is a Legendary Donut Shop. Yet, with these convenient

options so near, Jessica rarely sees her employees consume food and/or beverages from these

locations. These locations notoriously offer unhealthy fast-food options. By using Food Tracker,

a dialogue can be started about the positive trend of keeping these options out of daily diets.

Conclusion

Tools developed by industry professionals, such as the Food Tracker, are invaluable when

they allow us to gain knowledge that can improve ourselves, our habits, and our lifestyles. Using

case studies can help to humanize scientific data that at times can be hard to relate to. Jessicas

menu and the data retrieved from inputing valuables into the Food Tracker showcased the ease of

individualizing and utilizing such tools. Once acknowledged and understood, these tools should

then further be spread into the community and shared with others.
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Reference List

Mathews, M. (2013). How Much Protein You Should Eat to Build Muscle. Muscle 4 Life.

Retrieved from https://www.muscleforlife.com/how-much-protein-build-muscle/

ODPHP [Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion]. (2017). Dietary Guidelines for

Americans. Health.gov. Retrieved from https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/

guidelines/

USDA. (2017). Supertracker Food Tracker. Retrieved from https://www.supertracker.usda.gov/

default.aspx