Planning Healthy Meals Easier With New ‘Food Plate,’ But Where’s the Bad Stuff?

First lady Michelle Obama is now focusing on yet another tool to help fight America’s obesity epidemic:  the “food plate.” Remember the food pyramid that represented a healthy diet for almost 20 years? It was released in 1992 and included the four food groups stacked in the shape of a pyramid with the number of recommended servings a person should eat from each group in a day. The widest part of the pyramid showed the foods that should make up the bulk of our daily food intake: breads, cereals and grains, with fats at the very top.

Well, move over, pyramid: the new food plate will now be taking your place.

Mrs. Obama, Surgeon General Regina Benjamin and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack unveiled the new icon just yesterday. The icon is 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. Supposedly, MyPlate is considered a powerful visual cue that simply helps individuals adopt healthy eating habits at meal times.

If you take a look at the MyPlate website, the U.S. Department of Agriculture emphasizes several important nutrition messages: eat smaller portions, make at least half the plate fruits and vegetables and avoid sugary drinks:

  • Enjoy your food, but eat less.
  • Avoid oversized portions.
  • Make half of your plate fruits and vegetables.
  • Make at least half your grains whole grains.
  • Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1 percent) milk.
  • Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread and frozen meals and choose the foods with lower numbers.
  • Drink water instead of sugary drinks.

I think the new food plate really helps you figure out what a healthy meal plate should look like. I like the fact that the plate shows that half of your meal should be fruits and vegetables. Granted, that may be easier to do at lunch and dinner time, and to be honest I’m not much of a veggie eater as far as breakfast goes, but the intentions are great!

In my opinion, this list of empty calories (solid fats and added sugars that add calories to the food but contain few or no nutrients) should be prominently displayed next to the food plate as a reminder of the foods you should try to limit or avoid:

  • Cakes, cookies, pastries and donuts (contain both solid fat and added sugars)
  • Sodas, energy drinks, sports drinks and fruit drinks (contain added sugars)
  • Cheese (contains solid fats)
  • Pizza (contains solid fats)
  • Ice cream (contains both solid fats and added sugars)
  • Sausages, hot dogs, bacon and ribs (contain solid fats)

I do like the new food plate icon, but let’s just hope that it’s a tool that is used and not overlooked. Countless Americans prefer to deny that the U.S. is facing an obesity epidemic rather than focus on a solution, which starts right on everyone’s dinner plate.

That’s my two cents. What do you think of the new plate?

Photo by mallix.

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    1. Amy – I LOVE knowing that your children “totally get it!”  You should be very proud of yourself … you are ONE AWESOME MOMMY!!!  Woo hooooo!!
      Jodi

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