Food Reflections, Nov./Dec. 2005
Alice Henneman, MS, RD, Extension Educator & Dietitian
30 MyPyramid Steps to a Healthier You

MyPyramid PowerPoints

USDA's MyPyramid symbolizes a personalized approach to healthy eating and physical activity. It reminds us to make healthy food choices and to be active every day. The slogan "Steps to a Healthier You" suggests we can benefit from taking daily small steps to improve our diet and lifestyle.

Seven recommendations stressed by MyPyramid include:

  1. Make half your grains whole
  2. Vary your veggies
  3. Focus on fruits
  4. Get your calcium-rich foods
  5. Go lean with protein
  6. Find your balance between food and physical activity
  7. Limit fats, added sugars and sodium
Following are 30 steps from for a month of "steps to a healthier you."

1. Visit and calculate your "My Pyramid Plan."


2. Make most of your choices whole or cutup fruit rather than juice, for the benefits dietary fiber provides.


3. Eat foods and beverages that are low in "added sugars." This includes sugars and syrups added to foods or beverages during processing or preparation but does NOT include naturally occurring sugars such as those that are in milk and fruits.

4. Stock up on frozen vegetables for quick and easy cooking in the microwave.

frozen peas

5. Vary your fruit choices. Fruits differ in nutrient content.

varied fruits

6. Select vegetables with more potassium often, such as sweetpotatoes, white potatoes, white beans, tomato products (paste, sauce, and juice), beet greens, soybeans, lima beans, winter squash, spinach, lentils, kidney beans, and split peas.


7. Order veggie toppings for your pizza like mushrooms, green peppers, and onions.


8. Sauces or seasonings can add calories, fat, and sodium to vegetables. Use the Nutrition Facts label to compare the calories and % Daily Value for fat and sodium in plain and seasoned vegetables.

less sodium can

9. Dried fruits make a great snack. They're easy to carry and store well. Because they're dried, 1/4 cup is equal to 1/2 cup of other fruits.


10. Walking, gardening, briskly pushing a baby stroller, climbing the stairs, playing soccer, or dancing the night away are all good examples of being active. For health benefits, physical activity should be moderate or vigorous and add up to at least 30 minutes a day.

11. Try a main dish salad for lunch. Go light on the salad dressing.


12. Add fat-free or low-fat milk instead of water to oatmeal and hot cereals. If milk is avoided because of lactose intolerance, try using a lactose-free milk, consuming the enzyme lactase before consuming milk, or using a calcium fortified soy or rice beverage. Bioavailability of calcium from nondairy foods may vary.
13. Use the Nutrition Facts label and choose grain products with a higher % Daily Value (%DV) for fiber – the %DV for fiber is a good clue to the amount of whole grain in the product.

14. Popcorn, a whole grain, can be a healthy snack with little or no added salt and butter.


15. Do exercises or pedal a stationary bike while watching television.

stationary bike

16. Many vegetables taste great with a dip or dressing. Try a low-fat salad dressing with raw broccoli, red and green peppers, celery sticks or cauliflower.


17. Physical activity may include short bouts (e.g., 10-minute bouts) of moderate-intensity activity. The accumulated total is what is important and can be accumulated through three to six 10-minute bouts over the course of a day.

18. For fresh fruit salads, mix apples, bananas, or pears with acidic fruits like oranges, pineapple, or lemon juice to keep them from turning brown.



19. Park farther from your destination (work, shopping, etc.) and walk the rest of the way.


20. Select fruits with more potassium often, such as bananas, prunes and prune juice, dried peaches and apricots, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, and orange juice.

potassium rich fruits

21. For dessert, make pudding with fat-free or low-fat milk.


22. Color is not an indication of a whole grain. Bread can be brown because of molasses or other added ingredients. Read the ingredient list to see if it is a whole grain.

23. Experiment by substituting whole wheat for up to half of the flour in pancake, waffle, muffin or other flour-based recipes.


24. If you drink cappuccinos or lattes -- ask for them with fat-free (skim) milk.


25. Refrigerate or freeze perishables, prepared food and leftovers within two hours.


26. Choose grain products that name one of the following whole-grain ingredients first on the label’s ingredient list: brown rice, bulgur, graham flour, oatmeal, whole-grain corn, whole oats, whole rye, whole wheat, wild rice.

27. For a change, try brown rice or whole-wheat pasta.

brown rice

28. Frozen juice bars (100% juice) make healthy alternatives to high-fat snacks.

juice bar

29. Replace a coffee break with a brisk 10-minute walk. Ask a friend to go with you.


30. Look for fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, trout, and herring. salmon

Permission to Reproduce: You may reproduce these materials for educational purposes but not for sales purposes. You're also welcome to link to the FOOD Web site from your Web site. Please credit: University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension (

smiley face Was this article helpful to you? YES NO

Enter any comments below:

Name (optional)

E-mail address (optional)

University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension in Lancaster County
444 Cherrycreek Road, Suite A, Lincoln Nebraska 68528-1507
Phone: 402-441-7180 Fax: 402-441-7148

University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension educational programs abide with the nondiscrimination policies of the University of Nebraska and the United States Department of Agriculture.

| Search This Site |
Food Home Page | Cook It Quick | Food Reflections Newsletter
| Programs | Publications | Links Site Map | Lancaster County Home Page | Confidentiality Statemen