Well, here it is, the USDA’s My Plate, the replacement for the food pyramid:
It was unveiled today, along with a new website, www.ChooseMyPlate.gov. The site provides information on using the new USDA plate icon, along with updated nutritional recommendations and information in an easy-to-use format.
For example, the basic suggestions are to:
- Balance calories (reduce portions)
- Increase certain foods (vegetables, fruits and whole grains)
- Reduce other foods (sodium and sugary drinks)
These suggestions for use with the USDA My Plate are stated simply and clearly, and the brightly-colored plate visual may make it easier for people to remember. It is certainly much less confusing than the food pyramid.
The new website also includes information on each of the basic food groups: grains, vegetables, fruits, dairy and protein. There are lists of what is included in each group, and selection tips for making the most nutritious choices. Unfortunately, some of the links do not seem to work right now.
Things become more complicated when you try to figure out how much of each type of food you should eat daily. The site introduces the concept of “equivalents’ in ounces, and makes daily recommendations based on age, gender and an assumption of 30 minutes per day of moderate exercise. You are left to figure out how that is all related to the portion size you should actually eat.
Changing the proportions of the foods we eat is a great place to start. But the size of plates we eat from has grown tremendously over the years. Nutritionists recommend that people eat from smaller plates, but simply suggesting that people switch from a 12 inch dinner plate to an 8 inch salad plate for all their meals doesn’t work. It’s too big a change all at once, and we all know that it is easier to make smaller changes. The DishDiet weight loss plan is based on gradual change, and will work very well when combined with the MyPlate recommendations.
Overall, the USDA My Plate seems to be an improvement over the food pyramid. Let’s hope this really does help people improve the way they their eating habits.