Nutrition pop quiz: name the food groups that make up the Food Guide pyramid, and how they’re stacked. Can’t remember? You’re not the only one; I’m a nutritionist and I often have to look it up. Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) admitted that their nearly 20-year-old icon was too complicated and confusing, and shelved it for a new “My Plate” graphic. In a press conference unveiling My Plate, First Lady Michelle Obama said that it will help "simplify the way we convey our nutrition information.”
One glance at My Plate’s clean lines, and it’s clear Mrs. Obama is right. The colorful plate is divided into four chunks. On one half: a red wedge for fruits and a slightly larger green wedge for vegetables. On the other half sits an orange wedge for grains and a slightly smaller purple wedge for protein. To the side of the plate: a little blue circle indicating dairy. The image captures both food groups and portion control at once.
While its simplicity makes for easy recall, it leaves out crucial information on what types of grains, protein, and other foods are healthiest. And there is no mention of fat. For these details, go to choosemyplate.gov where you can also receive a “personalized plan” specifying daily calories and number of servings of each food group.
The advice is good, and the site easy to use, but there are still vestiges of the old pyramid system that are confusing. For instance, a slice of whole wheat bread, half cup of brown rice, etc., are called “ounce equivalents”, meaning they contain an ounce of whole grain. A chart helps clarify, but it’s still a little muddy.
And while it’s fine that the government allows us some sweets and other “empty calories” (your personalized plan gives you a daily allotment that seems a little high to me) you need an advanced nutrition degree to figure it out. How would you know that out of the 224 calories in a cup of frozen yogurt, 119 are empty calories and the rest count toward your dairy serving? Instead, I recommend that you simply consider the total calories in the frozen yogurt and other sweets, fried foods, and foods not recommended on the My Plate site as going toward your daily treat calorie allowance.
Still, despite the issues, My Plate, paired with its accompanying website, can guide you to a healthy way of eating.Helpful? 1 person found this helpfulNutrition pop quiz: name the food groups that make up the Food Guide pyramid, and how they’re stacked. Can’t remember? You’re not the only one; I’m a nutritionist and I often have to look it up. Last week, the U.S.... More
Jay Morgan answered:
USDA's new "My Plate" icon was created as a simplistic reminder for healthy eating. The plate is broken down into 5 food types:
Fruits and vegetables comprise half of the plate, which represents a needed shift within today's traditional American plate. The USDA gives guidelines on total daily amounts for each food group, but emphasizes that everyone is an individual. Age, sex, and level of activity need to be taken in account. Balancing calories and eating less are two high priority goals of the plate.Helpful? 1 person found this helpfulUSDA's new "My Plate" icon was created as a simplistic reminder for healthy eating. The plate is broken down into 5 food types: Fruits Vegetables Grains Proteins Dairy Fruits and vegetables comprise half of the plate, which represents a needed... More