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My Plate Is The New Food Pyramid

choose my plate

I remember growing up and seeing the food pyramid and… ignoring it.  My metabolism was on fire and I could eat anything I wanted.  As I got older my metabolism started slowing down and I wanted to live a healthier lifestyle so I started paying more attention to the pyramid.  Though helpful, it wasn’t very intuitive when it came to helping people figure out how to eat healthier or to meet their nutritional needs.  In fact sometimes it had the opposite effect: “They thought fat and sugar must be good because it was at the top of the pyramid,”stated Zenobia Barlow, executive director of the Center for Ecoliteracy (SF Gate, June 2, 2011).

choose my plate

Yesterday, the Obama administration introduced a new icon to help people better understand where their calories should coming from.  Michelle Obama has made it her mission to curb childhood obesity and changing MyPyramid to MyPlate is one step toward that goal.  The first lady stated:

We realized that we needed something that made sense not just in classrooms or laboratories, but at dining tables and in school cafeterias….Parents don’t have the time to measure out exactly 3 ounces of chicken or look up how much rice or broccoli is in a serving. That has confounded me as a parent for a very long time. But we do have time to look at our kids’ plates. As long as they’re eating proper portions, as long as half of their meal is fruits and vegetables along their lean proteins, whole grains and low-fat dairy, then we’re good. (SF Gate, June 2, 2011).

In addition to laying out clear guidelines, there are helpful interactive tools on the website that allow you to figure out your individual recommended daily food plan, food tracker, food-a-pedia, and menu planner .  You simply input the foods you eat and the website will let you know whether you are getting the recommended daily allowances, what you should add or cut, and all of the vitamins and nutrients you are getting.  There are even helpful guidelines for pregnant and nursing moms and preschoolers.
I found the site to be very helpful and I intend on using the food tracker, food-a-pedia and menu planner.  But even if I don’t get to use the online tools as often as I would like, the image of MyPlate is firmly etched in my mind and I’ll know exactly what I should eat.  When thinking about MyPlate, also keep these general guidelines in mind:

USDA General Dietary Guidelines 2011

Balancing Calories
● Enjoy your food, but eat less.
● Avoid oversized portions.Foods to Increase
● Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
● Make at least half your grains whole grains.
● Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.

Foods to Reduce
● Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals ― and choose the foods with lower numbers.
● Drink water instead of sugary drinks.

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