Learn About Choose My Plate

Healthy Food Choices in Schools April 22, 2016 Print Friendly and PDF

In 2011, First Lady Michelle Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack introduced MyPlate. MyPlate has become the federal government’s primary food group symbol, to remind consumers to make healthy food choices consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

MyPlate is the current nutrition guide published by the USDA that has replaced the prior MyPyramid diagram. MyPlate is divided into sections of approximately 30 percent grains, 30 percent vegetables, 20 percent fruits and 20 percent protein, accompanied by a smaller circle representing dairy, such as a glass of low fat/nonfat milk or a yogurt cup. Both MyPyramid and MyPlate depict the same food groups and same recommend portion size. The MyPlate graphic is intended to be less confusing than older food pyramid diagrams. MyPlate is designed to remind Americans to eat healthfully; it is not intended to change consumer behavior alone.

Choose my plate logo

The key behaviors that MyPlate encouraged are:

  • "Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.

    • Focus on whole fruits.

    • Vary your veggies.

  • Make half your grains whole grains.

  • Move to low-fat and fat-free dairy.

  • Vary your protein routine.

  • Eat and drink the right amount for you” (ChooseMy Plate).

What Professionals are Saying

According to a study conducted by Cornell University’s Dr. Brain Wansink and Dr. Sibylle Kranz of Purdue University, mothers who utilize MyPlate are more likely to involve children in meal preparation and are more likely to enjoy vegetables themselves.

“MyPlate is mainly a healthy eating guide, but I also use a plate approach for helping people lose weight because it makes understanding relative portion sizes much easier,” said Susan B. Roberts, Ph.D., Professor of Nutrition and Professor of Psychiatry at Tufts University and author of The "I" Diet weight-loss program.

“The new design is a big improvement.  For one thing, it will be easier to teach. Its main message is simple: eat your veggies! Eat whichever foods you like, and don’t worry about numbers of servings. Just fit the foods on the plate where they belong, and use a reasonably sized plate. The issues here are critical. We have a huge obesity problem in this country that threatens our national security and health-care systems. If this helps people understand what a healthy diet ought to look like, it will be performing an important public service,” said Marion Nestle, Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health, New York University.

Creating a healthier lifestyle, better food choices and a more balanced diet does not have to be complicated.  Using the MyPlate standard as a guide, creating a healthy meal is much easier for parents and guardians.


Contributors 

Katherine Baildon and Sarina Kumar, Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Programs

Sources

Can MyPlate Make Us HealthyThe Daily Beast 3 Jun 2011.

Choose my Plate. About.               

Guay, Melissa. ‘Choose My Plate replaces the food pyramid’ Poststar 2 Mar. 2012. 

Hastings-Black, Julia and Joanna Ladzinski. Who is Using MyPlateCornell Food and Brand Lab. 

USDA replaces MyPyramid with MyPlate Disease Proof. 15 June 2011. 


 

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.