By Mache Seibel M.D.


I was a fat baby. By the time I was 29 months old, I had grown into Mighty Mite – the fattest child in Galveston County. That’s what the heading was on the front page of the Galveston Daily News. The feeling at the time was “a fat baby is a healthy baby.” Of course, now we know a fat baby is often not a healthy baby and more likely to be a fat and unhealthy adult. In 2012, 1 in 3 children are obese. Mission Readiness, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization run by retired military leaders dedicated to investing in America’s youth, discovered that today, 27% of 17- to 24-year-olds, some 9 million, are too fat to meet the basic minimum standards required for military service because they are too fat. They fear obesity as a national security issue.


I was very fortunate; I was able to change my exercise level, my diet, and ultimately my body size. Today, I’m at my ideal body weight. But that was not an accident. It took a conscious decision on my part to change my dietary habits both what food choices I made and how much of it I ate. The US Department of Health has addressed America’s growing obesity epidemic by giving us a simple, objective way to look at the food we eat. It’s called MyPlate. Click here for my video on portion control and MyPlate.


The image of MyPlate is a plate divided into 4 parts. Something as simple as knowing how much of which food to put on our plate has the potential to curb obesity, lower the rate of heart disease and diabetes, and improve our chances for a longer and healthier life.


MyPlate is much easier to understand than the Food Pyramid system, which it replaced. It’s much easier to use than the Ornish diet, the Atkins diet or the South Park diet. If we pay attention to MyPlate, we don’t have to consider any of these or any other dietary approaches or measure ounces of food. This new approach was released last year, and can be found at These recommendations promote health, reduce the risk of chronic disease and represent an effort to decrease the obesity epidemic in the United States with improved nutrition and physical activity. You can find lots of great recipes in my cookbook Eat to Defeat Menopause.


The new food pyramid is a very simple image of a plate divided into four parts. These 4 unequal quadrants represent vegetables, fruits, grains, and protein with a circle (representing the top view of a glass) off to the side to represent dairy. You can find an image of this at Basically, the plate is divided with half of the plate containing fruits and vegetables. One of the two remaining quadrants contains grains (primarily whole grains) such as rice, bread or cereal, and the final quadrant contains proteins including meat, fish, poultry, beans, soy or eggs.


MyPlate primarily follows the Mediterranean diet. That diet is high in legumes, grains, nuts, fish, fruits, and vegetables but is low in dairy and red meats. I was recently able to visit the Pompeii exhibit at Boston’s Museum of science, and was pleasantly surprised to find that in 79 A.D., the diet we are discovering today was already very well established. Another observation that was present in 79 A.D. that we can also learn from today was the fact that the size of a plate was much smaller than the ones we eat from in most kitchens in 2012. So cleaning your plate meant you were eating a lot fewer calories.


This diet is very high in mono-saturated fatty acids and low in saturated fatty acids. Scientists analyzed 12 pre-existing scientific studies and combined their total results. This is called a meta-analysis study, involving over 1.5 million people. It showed that the more one adhered to a Mediterranean-type diet the lower the incidence of death and cancer. Of course, My Plate alone won’t solve the problem of obesity and rising rates of obesity and heart disease. But the plate is one more step in carrying out the message that includes encouraging people to enjoy your food but eat less, switch to fat-free or low-fat milk, choose foods lower in sodium, make at least half your grains whole grains and drink water instead of sugary drinks. It’s time to make MyPlate your plate.

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About the Author:

It is a real pleasure to contribute a regular article to Families Online Magazine. Because most of the readers are women, and I trained at Harvard in Reproductive Medicine and am Director of the Complicated Menopause Program at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, most of my articles will either apply directly to women’s health, or contain information that can be of help with families. Some articles will be on things th at are ongoing health and wellness topics, and others will be comments or perspectives on important issues you notice in the news.


My real passion is to help America stay well. I often speak to both medical and lay audiences, consult to companies about health and am frequently interviewed by the media. I’ve written 14 books, over 200 medical articles, and been editor in chief of a medical journal. My most recent book is Eat to Defeat Menopause.

I’m also the founder of, which uses songs I write and usually sing to help people remember important medical information. After many of the articles, I’ll offer you a free song or eBook or other useful and/or entertaining content that I hope will help you stay well. My comments here aren’t intended to take the place of your healthcare provider. If you have a medical problem, be sure to ask your doctor. But I do hope that the information you receive from me will help you stay well. That’s my motto: It’s better to stay well than to get well. If you have a topic you would like me to cover, drop me a note at [email protected] and I’ll try to cover it for you or sign up for my newsletter at

Lisa Metzgar

Nutrition Tidbits by Lisa Metzgar, PhD
LisaMetzgar, PhD,she received her BA in Biology from UCSD, is a certified Holistic Health Practitioner, and received her Ph.D. in Holistic Nutrition.

Lisa has taught body mind retreats in San Diego, Seattle, and Australia and currently has a practice in Reno, NV where she does nutrition counseling.Lisa's passion is to educate families about a healthy lifestyle.
Lisa Metzgar MetzgarHouseCall® Medical Advice ColumnHealthBy Mache Seibel M.D.   I was a fat baby. By the time I was 29 months old, I had grown into Mighty Mite - the fattest child in Galveston County. That's what the heading was on the front page of the Galveston Daily News. The feeling...Parenting Advice| Family Fun Activities for Kids