No more scaling MyPyramid. The time has come to step up to MyPlate. On Thursday, June 2, the U.S. Department of Agriculture introduced a new healthy eating icon and education tool. As you can see, MyPlate is a circle with four colorful sections devoted to fruits, vegetables, grains and protein. Fruits, vegetables and grains make up three-fourths of the plate; protein is limited to a smaller wedge. A small circle next to the plate represents a modest serving of dairy — meaning low/no-fat milk or a cup of low/no-fat yogurt.
Many experts believed that 2005 MyPyramid was too complex and tried to communicate too much information at once. And, frankly, hadn’t we grown rather tired of seeing it? MyPlate, however, has been receiving some glowing reviews for its simplicity, visual impact and “how-to” approach. Visit MyPlate online and click on each section for lists of suggested foods. You can also print these lists.
MyPlate also conveys some new advice, based on the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which were released earlier this year. This advice includes:
• Eat smaller portions.
• Slow down and enjoy your food.
• Fill half your plate with deeply colored fruits and vegetables. They contain more nutrients
than pale or white ones. Whole fruits and vegetables (versus juice) contain more fiber,
which crates a “full feeling” and helps keep blood sugar stable.
• Make grains – preferably whole grains – one-quarter of your meal.
• Protein doesn’t have to come from meat, poultry or fish sources. Beans, grains and nuts
are good vegetarian protein choices.
• Choose a serving of low/no-fat dairy – milk or yogurt – with every meal.
• Drink water instead of sugary drinks.
MyPlate promotes a meal pattern that helps prevent obesity, diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers – chronic diseases that can have their roots in childhood and lead to reduced quality of life and overwhelming cost in later life. And unlike MyPyramid, the MyPlate approach fits everyone, regardless of age. (Some additional advice for older people: Talk with your doctor about the possible need for calcium, vitamin D supplements or fortified foods).
Oh, and did we mention dessert? The MyPlate plan doesn’t include MyPyramid’s “discretionary calories.” So for dessert, how about a peach cobbler made with whole-grain flour? Or a blueberry crisp topped with whole-grain granola? But when chocolate cake is simply a necessity, make your portion small and savor every morsel.
How do you feel about the new MyPlate guidelines?