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How can I use the MyPlate recommendations to help my family eat healthier?

Toby Smithson
Nutrition & Dietetics

The new MyPlate is a great visual tool for teaching your whole family how to eat healthier. It is a great tool for teaching colors and math too! Everyone eats from a plate or has eaten from a plate so it makes sense to learn how to build a healthier plate. Key messages on how to build a healthy plate are:

  • Fill half your plate with produce (fruits and vegetables).
  • Fill one fourth of your plate with grains (choosing half of your grains as whole grains).
  • Fill one fourth of your plate with a protein food.
  • Off to the side of the plate is a serving of dairy.

To practice with your kids you can give them a paper plate and have them either color the foods in the correct portion of the plate or cut out pictures of foods and paste them in the correct portion of the plate.

MyPlate is the most recent tool released by the USDA that serves as an icon to remind consumers and families to eat healthfully. It not only depicts the five food groups using a familiar mealtime visual, a place setting, but also in proportionality as 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. 

For help with using MyPlate for the family meals, please visit: www.ChooseMyPlate.gov.

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.