The USDA officially put their food pyramid to rest today with the unveiling of the myPlate campaign. The new campaign features a greatly simplified illustration of nutritional advice. Here is a overview of suggestions accompanying the new graphic:
• Enjoy your food, but eat less.
• Avoid oversized portions.
Foods to Increase
• Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
• Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.
• Make at least half your grains whole grains
Foods to Reduce
• Compare sodium (salt) in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals, and choose foods with lower numbers.
• Drink water instead of sugary drinks.
Some of the biggest changes in this graphic mirror changes in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. These include the first official advice to “eat less” in the face of increasing overweight and obesity issues caused by consumption of excess and empty calories. The advice to “make half of your plate fruits and vegetables” shows a new emphasis on these two groups and “make at least half your grains whole grains” encourages a reduction in refined and white grains. Dairy has also been shifted from the main plate, becoming more of an ancillary group, perhaps a response from many who argue that although a great source of calcium, many populations cannot process dairy products and can find calcium in alternative sources such as green vegetables. Some, such as Marion Nestle, criticize the new design for the naming of the “protein” category, pointing out that “protein” is a nutrient, not a category of food, and that many foods in the vegetable, grain, and dairy categories also qualify as excellent sources of protein. All-in-all, most agree that the new guide is much simpler and more concise and will prove a useful tool in encouraging more healthful eating.