by Ha Nguyen, Undergraduate Student and Stella L. Volpe, PhD, RD, Professor and Chair, Department of Nutrition Sciences, Drexel University
Good-bye to the food pyramids we all once knew as the essential guide to healthy eating. With one-third of American children being obese or overweight, and with the large number of adults who have chronic illnesses due to obesity, changes needed to be made and different tools needed to be revamped to help people make smarter food choices and to develop better eating behaviors. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) replaced MyPyramid in June of 2011 and introduced a new generational approach to healthy eating called MyPlate. The MyPlate icon is a common mealtime place setting revealing the five food groups: vegetables, fruits, grains, protein and dairy represented in different recommended proportion sizes.
The purpose of MyPlate is to provide an easy-to-use guide to make healthy mealtime choices. In a press release for MyPlate from the USDA 2011, Agriculture Secretary, Tom Vilsack said of the visual cue, “This is not a mandate, but a suggestion”. MyPlate is not meant to restrict people from enjoying snacks and treats, but it serves to remind them of what a healthy meal should look like. Based on the 2010 United States Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (2011) suggests making changes in these areas:
- Enjoying your food, but eat less
- Avoid oversized portions
Foods to Increase
- Make half your plate fruits and vegetables
- Make at least half your grains whole grains
- Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk
Foods to Reduce
- Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread and frozen meals – and choose the foods with lower numbers
- Drink water instead of sugary drinks
The ChooseMyPlate.gov website offers many tools and tips to staying healthy. You can obtain a personalized meal plan for all ages, find healthy recipes, and calculate Calories for different foods. The new MyPlate also recognizes that healthy eating should be balanced with physical activity. ChooseMyPlate.gov offers ways to stay active and provides tips on incorporating activities into home and work routines.
MyPlate is interested in knowing what you are eating. To share how you are doing, take part in this nationwide initiative by sharing a picture of your plate on Twitter with the hash-tag #MyPlate.
United States Department of Agriculture. (2011, September). Choose my plate . Retrieved from http://www.choosemyplate.gov/
United States Department of Agriculture:Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. (2011, October). Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Retrieved from http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/dietaryguidelines.htm