Earlier this month, the U.S. government introduced a new graphic symbol or icon to replace the nutritional recommendations contained within the Food Pyramid. The Food Pyramid has been replaced with a plate and a small glass to the side. According to the USDA news release, MyPlate is "a new generation icon with the intent to prompt consumers to think about building a healthy plate at meal times and to seek more information to help them do that by going to www.ChooseMyPlate.gov.
"This is a quick, simple reminder for all of us to be more mindful of the foods that we're eating and as a mom, I can already tell how much this is going to help parents across the country," said First Lady Michelle Obama.
"It's a good starting point for someone who's looking to eat a balanced diet," said Audrey Bowman, Clinical Dietitian, Seton Northwest Hospital. "It's an accurate representation for what Americans goals should be." It's not a fair representation of what we are eating on a daily basis. In 2009, nearly 66.8% of Texas adults were either overweight or obese. In 2009, 15.6% of Texas high-school students were reported to be overweight and 13.6% were obese. According to these statistics, Texans are still having a difficult time choosing the right foods and the right amount of food.
"The plate proportions are not absolute, said Audrey". "Depending where the person is starting at nutritionally, the proportions may change over time. If you do not eat any vegetables, adding one or two to each meal may be a difficult task. You can work up to match the USDA recommendations over time."
While the plate icon is simple, there's more to consider nutritionally than dividing the plate in proper percentages. The website www.ChooseMyPlate.gov provides greater detail to help you choose which proteins, grains, dairy, fruits and vegetables. For example, the icon reflects 25 percent of the plate should be filled with grains. It's not until you dig into the website or open the companion brochure that you find out that you should make half of your grains "whole." The additional information also emphasizes a reduction in foods high in solid fats, added sugars and salt. You should also switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk and dairy.
How To Use The Plate
- Build a healthy plate
- Cut back on foods high in solid fats, added sugars, and salt
- Eat the right amount of calories for you
- Be physically active your way
"People need the right support and tools to make changes," said Audrey. "Most people know the basics to healthy eating but need help in implementing the lifestyle change." When preparing your July 4th dinner plate in the next couple of weeks, see if you can fill half the plate with fruits and vegetables. Take a photo of it and tweet it out with the hash-tag #MyPlate. You can also share it on the USDA Flickr Photo Group.