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Turn Your Pyramid Into a Plate

USDA introduces new guide to healthy eating and nutrition.

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MyPyramid nutrition guide.The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Guide Pyramid, first developed in 1992 and modified since then, has officially hit the dust.

MyPyramid was, in my opinion, difficult for people to follow and use as the guide to a healthy diet it was intended to be.

Now in its place, the USDA has introduced MyPlate. While MyPlate does not have a physical activity component to it, it was introduced as a partner to the Let’s Move! campaign, which encourages physical activity.

I am very happy to see the icon move from the pyramid design to a plate. After all, we don’t eat pyramids, we eat from a plate!

MyPlate nutrition guide.

As you can see from the picture, it makes it a lot easier to see what to actually eat. The proportions defined by MyPlate can be used as a guide for a meal, or an average for the day. In general, half of our plate should be fruits and vegetables, and the rest is split into proteins and complex carbs/grains.

They’ve got dairy on the side, as if it’s a glass of milk. Remember that you could have yogurt or cheese as your dairy as well. The plate now says “protein” instead of separating out meat and beans like the pyramid did, so hopefully people know what foods are considered protein. If you don’t, you can always go to http://choosemyplate.gov to learn more about each of the specific groups.

Another BIG difference is that oils and fats are not on the plate. Some are upset about this, but I think it makes sense. It’s assumed that some of the food you eat is cooked with oil or you’re adding it to your meal in some other way—so you don’t have to go out of your way to make sure it’s somewhere on your plate. It’s not represented by a separate “piece” on the plate, but to me it’s assumed that it’s there. Of course, you can learn about the oils on the MyPlate website if you want to know more.

MyPlate is a companion to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines (it just came out a few months late) which state:

  • enjoy your food, but eat less
  • avoid oversized portions
  • make half your plate fruits and vegetables
  • switch to fat-free and low-fat milk
  • make at least half your grains whole grains
  • compare sodium in foods like soups, bread and frozen meals and choose foods with lower numbers
  • drink water instead of sugary drinks

Bravo to the USDA for creating a guide that is more user-friendly and visual—especially for our children! I encourage everyone to click around on http://www.choosemyplate.gov to learn more.

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Tags: Healthy Eating , Nutrition Trends

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MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N

Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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