Food Pyramid Replaced By “My Plate”

Posted Wed, 06/08/2011 - 3:21pm by Camilla Cheung

Filed Under:

The new nutritional symbol "My Plate" and its corresponding guidelines were announced by First Lady Michelle Obama last Thursday, who emphasized how simple it is to start eating healthy.

The First Lady and USDA administrators explained that the new symbol is meant to make it easier for families to understand how to eat well by visualizing the portions of food on the plate. While the previous food pyramid defined servings in terms of ounces, calories, and other measurements, families that do not have time to weigh and measure servings may find the new symbol easier to understand.

While parents may not have the specialized knowledge of a nutritionist, nor the time to be a master chef when they get home from work, they do have the ability to look at their children's plates and see if the portions of each food are appropriate.

The multicolored My Plate symbol shows that half of the food on your plate should be fruits and vegetables, with the rest divided between grains and protein, and an extra portion of dairy on the side.

The new food icon also reflects the changing way we eat, with the old food group "meat and beans" replaced with "protein," which can include fish, shellfish, beans, soy, nuts and other sources of protein, and the "milk" food group replaced with "dairy." In general, the My Plate symbol seems to be encouraging a more plant-based approach to eating.

USDA officials warn, however, that My Plate is just a start. It is also important to check the amount of food you eat (or the size of your plate) and to choose healthy whole grains, lean proteins, low-fat milk, and a variety of fruits and vegetables, while reducing sodium and sugar.

In the next few years , the USDA will partner with First Lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move!" campaign to counter childhood obesity and to promote and educate the public about the My Plate food icon. The partnership has already begun a campaign on the social networks, encouraging the public to take pictures of their meals and post them to sites like Twitter (with hash tag #MyPlate) and onto the My Plate Flickr group.

Meanwhile, the My Plate website, ChooseMyPlate.gov, offers information about the food groups and a tool that allows you to look up the calorie and serving information on a particular food. More interactive features will be put up on the site in the near future.

What do you think of My Plate? Is it easier to understand than the old Food Pyramid?

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