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What is the USDA MyPlate? How do I use it? What happened to the food pyramid?
MyPlate replaced the food pyramid, which was considered too confusing, by the USDA in 2011. It is set up as a plate with four sections plus a place for a low fat dairy product, such as skim milk or low fat yogurt. The sections on the plate are 30% grains and vegetables and 20% fruits and protein. It is a much easier way to visualize what a plate should look like rather than having to measure portion sizes. Half of the plate should be filled with fruits and veggies, and the other half should be whole grains, like quinoa and brown rice, and lean protein sources, such as chicken and fish. It is especially useful for younger children.
Abby Greenspun, MS, RD, CDN
While most people agree that the MyPlate graphic is easier to understand visually than the food pyramid, some assert that the plate and its contents could be further clarified. For instance, the USDA could emphasize whole, unrefined grains and give examples like millet or brown rice. Harvard University’s School of Public Health offers a reasonable alternative to MyPlate called the Healthy Eating Plate.
Laura A Stern, Managing Editor