Thursday, June 2, 2011

MyPlate replaces MyPyramid

New icon
 It’s here! The new Dietary Guidelines published earlier this year by the US Department of Agriculture has a new icon, unveiled today. The new icon replaces the old Food Pyramid that we have seen for the past 19 years. In its place is MyPlate, a supposedly easier-to-understand icon to help guide Americans to healthier eating.

Red is fruit, green: veggies, orange: grains, purple: protein, and blue is dairy.
The main concepts are:

1. One’s plate should consist primarily of fruits and vegetables, lean protein and whole grains

2. Grains, which were the base of the previous food pyramid, are less prominent. Instead of making up the entire base of the former pyramid, the plate shows a much smaller amount. In the previous pyramid, grains constituted a whopping 9-11 servings per day. They said it, and we listened. Americans consume an enormous amount of "grain" products: cookies, chips, crackers, pasta, and bread. In relation to the fruits and veggies section, it was clear that they thought we should eat more grains than produce!

During a time of unparalleled obesity and illness (diabetes, cancer, etc.) in this country, it comes not a moment too soon. The hope is that people will shift their focus from grains (i.e., the refined grains they thought they could eat by the boatload, and did!) to healthier fruits and vegetables which have a greater impact on one’s health. And though grains are still on the list, they are promoting whole grains to be emphasized instead of processed, refined grains. Thank goodness.

It was at a press conference this morning that the USDA Secretary, US Surgeon General and First Lady, Michelle Obama, unveiled the design.

CNN reported that “Obama has led a national campaign for healthier diets and more physical exercise, called Let's Move, which aims to reduce childhood obesity in the United States within a generation.” I applaud her for her efforts. This is an important mission she’s on and I think it’s great that she uses her influence to make such positive changes in the lives of our children.

More information on the MyPlate program can be found here:

Though I applaud these efforts, I find it interesting that they still won’t come out and say directly, eat less meat, sodas, and junk food. As I was thinking this, I checked out an interesting blog written by Marion Nestle, a professor in the department of nutrition, food studies, and public health at New York University, called Food Politics. I found that she and I had a similar reaction. In response to the announcement this morning she writes. “…They talk about foods (fruits, vegetables, seafood, beans, nuts) when they say “eat more.” But they switch to nutrient euphemisms (sodium, solid fats and added sugars) when they mean “eat less.”

They say, for example: “limit the consumption of foods that contain refined grains, especially refined grain foods that contain solid fats, added sugars, and sodium.” This requires translation: eat less meat, cake, cookies, sodas, juice drinks, and salty snacks.

That’s politics, for you.

Let’s give them credit for “drink water instead of sugary drinks.” That comes close. But I listened in on the press conference and conference call and several people pushed federal officials about why they didn’t come out and say “eat less meat.” The answers waffled.”

No surprise there. Obviously, they don’t want to piss off the meat industry and the soda makers. Too many lobbyists will call and complain, I guess, or worse, contribute less money to their upcoming campaign.

Food for thought.

You’ll find it all over the internet today, but here it is from the "horse' mouth" as they say:

And from CNN:


  1. I think it's great that they have introduced a more balanced type of eating plan for the general public. Unfortunately I think the concept in general has a long way to go, it doesn't take into account listening to your body and giving it what it needs.

    Having two girls has given me the luxury of
    informally studying two completely different body types: One that is very thin, very little muscle mass and thrives on a diet high in carbohydrates, the other is far more muscular and eats a diet high in protein. Getting them to eat the proportion of carb/protein indicated wouldn't cut it. I don't know if the American public is ready for that kind of philosphy, being in touch with your own body and eating responsibly. Just my $.02.

  2. Great insight. I think most of us know ourselves well enough to make good food choices based on our body types and needs. I think the guidelines are for the vast majority of people who really have no clue what to eat - those that don't know potato chips don't count as a vegetable! I think this new icon is meant mostly to get them to eat more fruit and veggies and if it works, then it was a better idea than the pyramid. Lets hope anyway.


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