How can I eat healthy by using the MyPlate recommendations?

Joy Dubost, PhD
Nutrition & Dietetics
The new MyPlate icon is a useful and simple reminder for all of us to eat well and improve our overall health. To assist with educating consumers on how to follow the 2010 Dietary Guidelines and eat healthfully, the USDA has launched the website This website provides practical information to help individuals build healthier diets according to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines.

The new MyPlate icon reminds us to pause and think about what we are putting on the plate. Foods to focus on include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy and lean protein. These foods provide essential nutrients while managing your calorie intake. In other words, you get the most nutrients for the least amount of calories. Visually compare your plate with the new food icon. Does it match up? If not, try some of these options.
  • Make 1/2 your plate fruits and vegetables - include red, orange and dark green vegetables
  • Switch to skim or 1% milk -- Don’t worry you are still receiving the same amount of calcium and other essential  nutrients relative to whole milk, without the fat and calories
  • Make sure you select at least 1/2 of your grains as whole grains. Look for the word "whole" on the ingredient statement label.
  • Variety of protein is important. At least twice per week, consume seafood. Also consume beans and nuts while keeping your meat and poultry portions lean.
  • Don’t forget to reduce foods high in solid fats, added sugars and salt.
Using the new MyPlate icon can assist you with building a healthier plate and ultimately an overall healthier diet. Remember to include daily physical activity. For more information you can also visit or consult a Registered Dietitian for a eating plan that is tailored for you.
Laura Motosko, MSEd, RD
Nutrition & Dietetics

Check out the United States Department of Agriculture website The MyPlate Icon illustrates healthy eating guidelines with the food groups in recommended portions on a plate. Click on each food group to be directed to a set of guidelines on how to eat healthy with key consumer messages.

Lynn Grieger
Nutrition & Dietetics
Use the excellent information at to first evaluate your current food choices. Compare your breakfast, lunch and dinner meals for 2-3 days to the healthy plate icon, and notice both where you're already following the guidelines, plus any changes you could make to improve your eating habits.

Next, pick just one small, realistic change to put into place over the following week. By evaluating your current eating habits and choosing just one small behavior change at a time, you'll gradually improve the overall health quality of your meals without feelilng overwhelmed or an a diet. Even small changes can lead to big health improvements!
MyPlate is the most recent tool released by the USDA that serves as an icon to remind consumers to eat healthfully. It depicts the five food groups using a familiar mealtime visual, a place setting. MyPlate is the focal point for a larger, web-based communication and education initiative at that provides information, tips and tools to help you build a healthier diet based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010.

As you can see from the figure, MyPlate is a dinner plate split into multiple sections, each representing each of the five food groups: fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, and dairy. While oils are an important part of a healthy diet, they are not depicted on the plate as they are not considered a food group. At a blink of an eye, you will now see proportionality in regards to how these food groups should dominate your diet. Half of your plate should be devoted to waist- and heart-friendly vegetables and fruit with a smaller portion for grains, preferably whole grains and lean protein foods such as fish, skinless poultry, lean meats, dried beans and peas. The circle shape next to the plate is a visual reminder to make sure that fat-free and low-fat dairy foods such as milk should not be forgotten at mealtimes.

By using the MyPlate icon your meals, and thus, your diet, will be healthy and well-balanced. For more on the specific number of servings from each food group that you should be consuming daily, please visit:
MyPlate, USDA's food pyramid

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.