Myplate!, The New Food Guide 2012

In its quest to improve your diet, the US Department of Agriculture, or USDA, has introduced a new icon of healthy eating, MyPlate and show everyone that a food guide does not have to be so complicated. The new USDA food guide is a colorful plate divided into four sections of vegetables, fruits, grains, and foods high in protein with a cup of dairy on the side.

A Bit of Food Guide History

But the USDA food guide has had many looks throughout its history and took on the pyramid form in 1992 when the Food Guide Pyramid was released. This pyramid was met with hostility from nutritionists, who said it promoted too much eating of grains, which, in turn, nurtured obesity. Realizing that the nutritionists were right on target about the issue on obesity, the USDA, in 2005, replaced the food pyramid with MyPyramid.  This version is notable for not only favoring none of the food groups but also stressing the importance of physical activity.

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MyPyramid v. My Plate

MyPyramid illustrated the five food groups and oils in six colorful vertical stripes and each stripe was thinner or thicker depending on how much one food group should be consumed. Right at first glance, it was hard to tell just how much of each food group should be in your healthy diet. And that’s where MyPlate really makes planning your meal a whole lot easier. Just by looking at the icons, you can tell right away that vegetables and fruits should take up half your plate, with the veggie portion a bit bigger; and grains and proteins should take up the other half, with more whole grains on this side. And with a side helping of dairy, you are reminded that your kids also need a serving of milk or another such dairy food as yoghurt or cheese at each meal.

Oils, Fats, and Exercise

Oil also provide important nutrients and are suggested in small amounts but are not included in the MyPlate icon. This is because dietary guidelines encourage limiting oils, solid fats, and foods with added sugars; such foods provide what are considered empty calories because they just add calories but add little or no nutritional value.

Also, exercise is no longer included in the icon. However it is still an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Starting at two years old, every child needs at least 60 minutes of moderate to physical activity every day.

Image via Wikipedia

MyPlate, a Food Guide about Eating Well

As MyPlate is a divided plate, no single food group overpowers the others. That is because dietary guidelines recommend eating a variety of foods and oppose supersized portions which can lead to weight gain and obesity.  Although the food icon has changed from food pyramids to a plate, the message about eating well has remained largely the same. You and your kids still need to eat lots and lots of unprocessed fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, along with lean meats but shy away from the reds, and low-fat dairy products.

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