Most of you are probably familiar with the food guide pyramid created in 1992 (below left) by the USDA to help consumers make healthy food choices. That pyramid, however, had some fundamental problems that over the years were heightened as research showed more about what makes up a healthy diet. In 2005 the food pyramid got a big facelift and was changed to MyPyramid (below right)— a colorful depiction of how your diet should be balanced with the inclusion of physical activity. Unfortunately, consumers were still lost on the message since the pyramid had no words and you needed online access and the help of a professional to understand what any of it meant.
With the introduction of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines this past January, the Obama administration campaigned for a better (and clearer) picture of what our diets should look like. Today the food pyramid is a thing of the past with the launch of the newest food icon: MyPlate!
MyPlate is a more fitting icon to help people balance their diets — after all, we eat off of plates, not pyramids! It’s also a tool that dietitians have been using for years. The MyPlate image is divided into four sections: vegetables (red), fruit (green), grains (orange), and protein (purple). There is also a small cup-like image next to the plate that represents dairy. Like MyPyramid, there isn’t much information on the plate about portions, but visually you can see that the vegetable and fruit sections together make up half the plate (with vegetables slightly larger than fruit), and the grain section is slightly larger than the protein section on the other half.
Another item missing from MyPlate is healthy fat, like oils and nuts. If you look at the information online, you will find that nuts fall into the protein portion of the plate, but the oils are missing representation. This doesn’t mean you don’t need them – you do! It’s just one of the flaws that already stands out with the new food icon, proving that MyPlate won’t be able to solve all your dietary conundrums (and why you still need a registered dietitian to help you understand it all!).
All in all, although MyPlate could use some tweaking, its message is clear: pack your plate full of healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein and keep your portion sizes under control.
What do you think of MyPlate? How does it compare to the food pyramid?