USDA's My Plate replaces the Food Pyramid

The Food Pyramid becomes My Plate.

The Food Pyramid becomes My Plate.

After a lengthy, costly, research and development period, the USDA has replaced the old Food Pyramid nutrition guide with a new icon called My Plate. (The US government has issued new guidelines many times over the years--check out this cool graphic history.)

The new message is more clear, relateable, and balanced: a birds-eye-view of a plate divided, roughly, into four quadrants of fruits, vegetables, protein, and grain, with dairy represented as a "glass" on the side. Michelle Obama unveiled the icon today at a press conference, along with some good messages related to improving our country's eating habits.


The guidelines are pretty simple and actionable:

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.

So My Plate is a step up from the Food Pyramid, in terms of communicating a message, but implementing the suggested changes is another story. Major changes need to happen in our food system to make fruits and vegetables more accessible and affordable, especially considering the imbalance in government subsidies, which skew heavily towards meat, dairy, and grains.

What do you think of the new guidelines? What tips do you have for increasing fruit and vegetable consumption to make your plate more closely resemble the ideal?