This morning the USDA unveiled the new food guide for America titled MyPlate. This plate diagram replaces the old food pyramid that we’ve seen for years (see image below). If you visit choosemyplate.gov, in addition to this diagram, you will also see these dietary recommendations:

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.

MyPlate is an obvious improvement on the Food Pyramid which can be downright confusing at times. I also really like the bright, eye-catching colors and simplistic design. Here is my take on the diagram and accompanying recommendations:

PROS:

  • Diagram and text is simple and easy to understand
  • Far more clear than the old pyramid
  • 50% of the plate is fruits & veggies – yay!
  • If people actually follow MyPlate it would be a significant change from the SAD (Standard American Diet) that most eat today
  • They are actually telling people to avoid big portions and to eat less. What a novel concept!
  • We are a nation of soda and juice drinkers. It is fantastic to see the simple advice to drink water instead.

CONS:

  • The veggie section should have been larger
  • It makes it appear that fruit should be present at every meal when that is not necessary
  • It also makes it appear that dairy must be present for every meal; also not necessary (why does dairy get it’s own section?)
  • They should have used the words, Whole Grains, instead of just Grains
  • They advise to switch to fat free or 1% milk. Organic whole milk (preferably raw and unpasteurized from highly reputable farm) contains necessary fats for vitamin absorption.
  • No clear message to avoid sweetened foods – should have been part of the “Foods to Reduce” text section (this is a HUGE omission)
  • Not all meals are segregated into sections (veggie lasagna anyone?). Most meals co-mingle all the different types of food.
  • Not sure how effective it will be at changing behavior

Here is the 2005 USDA Food Pyramid (for a fun look down memory lane check out Washington Post’s The History of the Food Pyramid):

Other countries and organizations have used the plate theme as well. Here is the American Institute for Cancer Research’s The New American Plate:

Here is the UK’s eatwell plate which in my opinion has a too large a portion for carbohydrates and starches. I do like how they showcase pictures of what constitutes dairy, meat, etc.

The American Diabetes Association’ has their own version, Rate Your Plate!!:

I love Andy Bellatti’s critique of MyPlate on his website, Small Bites. Are you on Twitter? Check out what people are saying about the new design – hashtag #FoodIcon and #MyPlate.

What do you think about the new MyPlate? Will it help?