Do you remember the Food Pyramid? Me neither! Aside from being confusing, it also allowed too many servings of grains- breads, pastas, cereals and rice- which provided too many calories to an already overweight nation.
Last year, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) agreed that, after 20 years, a simpler and more nutritionally appropriate graphic was needed. Kim Carollo from ABC News explains:
First lady Michelle Obama, Surgeon General Regina Benjamin and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack unveiled the new icon. It’s called MyPlate, and it has four colored sections representing fruits, vegetables, grains and proteins. Next to the plate is a smaller circle representing dairy products.
“MyPlate is a truly simple, powerful visual cue to help people adopt healthy eating habits at meal times,” said Vilsack.
On MyPlate’s website, the USDA emphasizes several important nutrition messages: eat smaller portions, make at least half the plate fruits and vegetables and avoid sugary drinks.
MyPlate couldn’t be simpler: half of every plate we eat should be fruits and/or vegetables. About a quarter of the plate should be grains: whole grain and multigrain, NOT refined grain like white flower and white rice. Protein (meats) comprise a quarter of the plate and ideally should be “whole” meats: beef, chicken, fish, pork rather than processed meat products such as hot dogs, salami, pepperoni, etc. Finally, a small portion of each meal should contain dairy which can be considered as a glass of (low fat) milk.
- Where do potatoes and corn fit in? Although both are vegetables, they have such high glycemic indexes (lots of sugar calories in a small package) that I would think of putting them in the grains section.
- Is fried chicken or fried fish considered “whole”? Because so much fat is added in this cooking process, I would say no. Baking, broiling, and grilling meats leaves them whole in my mind.
- What if I don’t like to drink milk? A lot of people don’t like milk, although it provides important calcium, vitamins A&D (added), and essential amino acids. However these are available elsewhere, in the form of other dairy products and foods (calcium, vitamin A, and amino acids) and supplements (vitamin D).
The USDA has developed an excellent website at www.ChooseMyPlate.gov. I will borrow heavily from this website as The PediaBlog continues to explore a better way to eat.
ABC News article with excellent videos here:
The USDA ChooseMyPlate website is here: