My Native Plate

My Native Plate is the indigenous version of the USDA’s latest nutritional guidelines called Choose My Plate.  When the USDA replaced its food pyramid with the plate diagram, Indian Health Service went one step further and designed My Native Plate to make food choices easy. It includes three simple rules:

  1. Divide plate into quarters
  2. Fill each section with one serving each of fruit, vegetables, grains or starch, and meat.
  3. Pile food only 1 to 1 ½ inches high

The IHS website has the My Native Plate plus several other resources available for download. Click here and open the “nutrition” tab.

Basic Tips for General Healthy Eating (Small Changes for Big Results)

  • Consider ways to incorporate traditional foods with everyday foods from the grocery store. Watch these videos for inspiration – they show a chef preparing Alaska Native foods in combination with everyday ingredients.
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables. Kids should eat five servings a day. Serve fresh, frozen or canned fruits – they all count. Offer 100% juice, with no added sugar.
  • Consume less sugar and fat. Switch to low or non-fat milk and cheese, choose lean cuts of meat (like chicken or lean ground beef), broil or bake instead of fry, use olive/vegetable oil instead of butter. Drink water and skip soda/sweetened drinks.
  • Eat healthier snacks. Leave fruit and carrots sticks on the table for easy access. Differentiate between snacks that require permission (cookies) and those kids can eat freely (fresh or dried fruit). Drink water at snack times.
  • Watch portion size. Kids are smaller than adults and need less food! Use smaller plates for kids, serve small amounts and let them ask for seconds. Don’t force them to clean their plate if they are full.  
  • Eat together as a family. This allows you to model healthy habits and good behavior, encouraging focus on enjoying food and family social time.

(Above taken from Let’s Move in Indian Country. Click here for a more complete list.)

Eating Better on a Budget: Plan, Purchase and Prepare!

Eating healthy often isn’t affordable: produce prices are often high and selections at grocery stores in remote communities are less than desirable. But, there are some overall things to consider that can help cut grocery bills.

  1. Plan. Plan your meals and trips to the grocery store. Stews and casseroles use less of expensive ingredients and can last a few meals. Consider cooking large quantities (double or triple size) and then freezing in smaller batches to serve later.
  2. Purchase wisely.  Look for the unit price beneath each store item, compare to other brands and buy the least expensive. Buy in bulk: family packs of chicken, meat, fish, potatoes or frozen vegetables are less expensive. Buy produce in season, when supply is high and prices are lower.
  3. Prepare your own foods. You pay for more for pre-packaged and processed foods like frozen dinners, pre-cut vegetables and instant foods oatmeal or rice. Foods prepared from whole ingredients are more economical. Avoid fast food restaurants: they are more expensive and less healthy.

(Above adopted from choosemyplate.gov; more tips available online.)