Farewell to the ‘Pyramid’; Hello to the ‘Plate’

The former guide

I’ve been following the Food Guide Pyramid for decades; it was part of the curriculum I taught to my culinary students. About 6 years ago, The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) re-styled the pyramid to include an “activity guide” (the staircase on the left), because good eating and physical activity go hand-in-hand. Can’t argue with that.

The USDA has changed things around once again, revealing the new “My Plate” design – an updated visual of the government’s suggested nutrition plan replacing our old friend – the pyramid.

The new guide

Looks as though cereal and cracker companies are going to have to redesign their packaging, and culinary textbooks will have to update their nutrition chapters  !
What caught my eye while perusing the USDA’s website, were some recipes they posted in keeping with their new theme. For instance, ‘cucumber – yogurt  dip’, and ‘bulgar – chickpea salad’. Sound familiar?

Here is a brief account of the USDA changes according to Jan Norris, blogger, reporter, restaurant reviewer, food writer and editor:

“The USDA is placing more emphasis on fruit, vegetables and grains, and less emphasis on protein (meats, fish, poultry, plant proteins). Dairy is illustrated in the cup on the plate.

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.

Web site offers more:
The USDA web site, offers much more in the way of information about suggested foods. Food groups, and specific audiences for the advice, including breastfeeding and pregnant women, kids and those on weight loss plans are addressed.

There are a number of interactive features on the site, as well – you can have your diet analyzed, plan a menu, ask a question and look up individual foods.

What do you think?
Weigh in on what you think of this switchover – will you use this plate and does it make any difference in how you plan your meals? Do you think the government is still wary of dismissing things like soda and fried foods or fast foods, or are they leaving it up to the diner to decide?” JN

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  1. mossum June 5, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    Personally, I've always wished they'd bring more clarity to what is meant by "serving size." Opinions seem to vary drastically. I think another piece of helpful advice would be not to use a huge dinner plate when utilizing MyPlate as a guide.


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