Your doctor prescribes
TOPS provides the “do it.” ®
TOPS is not about
dieting or selling you a specific food plan. It’s about giving real
people just like you the support and tools they need to make lasting
lifestyle changes that make sense for them. That said, TOPS does
strongly recommend two different healthy eating plans—the Food
Exchange System and MyPlate. Ask your personal healthcare
professional to advise you on a food plan that will work best for
The Food Exchange
The Food Exchange
System guides you to use variety and flexibility in your meal
planning to achieve balanced nutrition at a calorie level that is
best for your goals. There are no “good” or “bad” foods with the
Exchange System—all foods fit…in moderation, of course. Food
exchange lists—developed by the American Dietetic Association and
American Diabetes Association—group all foods with similar
proportions of carbohydrate, protein, and fat.
Based on similar proportions of these three
nutrients, all food is divided into six groups: Starch, Meat, Fruit,
Vegetable, Milk, and Fat. There’s an additional “Free” group for
foods that have less than 20 calories per serving.
It’s called the “Exchange System” because each
item on a particular list, in the portion listed, may be
interchanged with any other food item on the same list. For example,
half of an English muffin may be exchanged for a 1-ounce slice of
bread since both of these foods are in the Starch group and have
roughly the same amount of carbohydrate, protein, and fat. TOPS’
lifestyle guide fully explains the Exchange System so members
understand it and use it successfully as they plan their meals.
advocates the plate
method as a simple
MyPlate, unveiled in
June 2011 by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA),
replaces the 20-year-old food pyramid, which the USDA said was too
confusing for consumers. Size of the plate and size of the portions
are, of course, very important.
The MyPlate icon gives us a visual
reminder to fill half of our plate with fruits and vegetables,
something TOPS has advocated for years. It’s as simple as that. The
remainder of our plate should include lean protein and
grains—preferably whole grains such as brown rice or whole-wheat
pasta. Pair your plate with a side of low-fat dairy such as skim
milk, and you have a balanced, nutritious meal.
To learn more about MyPlate, visit
www.choosemyplate.gov. To help you build healthier meals, “A
Week of MyPlate Worksheet” is available to TOPS members. Try to
use MyPlate as the basis for your main meal each day as a simple
way to get started.