By Jin Ju Wilder
The MyPlate icon is part of a comprehensive nutrition education and communication initiative that is meant to help Americans make healthier eating choices. There is a new USDA website with more information, tools, and resources available for consumers.
The basic recommendations to accompany the MyPlate graphic are:
- 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 rather than sugary drinks.
A new initiative was definitely in order. It replaces the 2005 MyPyramid, which measured quantities in cups and ounces instead of servings. MyPyramid may have recommended that you eat 1 medium piece of fruit or 6 ounces of vegetable juice. Call me crazy, but what if I don’t always have my measuring cups on me when I’m eating?
MyPyramid also advocated moderate physical activity by including a person walking up stairs as part of the pyramid icon.
The US Department of Agriculture has recognized the need for clarity in order to combat the obesity epidemic. Admitting that the MyPyramid icon was not a great public health success with its confusing horizontal blocks, USDA announced the MyPlate icon on June 2, which is an easier to understand visual graphic. The new advice is to make half your plate fruits and veggies.
The point is, with 9 out of 10 Americans not meeting the outdated goal of even 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day, it is crucial that we all start eating more fruits and vegetables to achieve optimal health. Exactly how much you eat isn’t as important as just adding more fruits and vegetables whenever you can. It can be a little or a lot, but whatever you add is going to help you.
That is why I have embraced the Produce for Better Health Foundation’s message of Fruits and Veggies –More Matters. Fruits and veggies are colorful and delicious so I can get down with adding more to every eating occasion. I like that I don’t need an advanced math degree to ensure that I’m eating enough and I feel good every time I add more fruits and veggies to my plate.
We would love to hear what you think about the new MyPlate icon and whether you will be making it your plate. Does it help you understand how much of each food group you should be consuming? Do you already eat like this? If not, do you think this is achievable? Please send us pictures of your real-life version of MyPlate, or tell us how you will be doing a “plate makeover” to get closer to the MyPlate recommendation.