Bye Bye Food Guide Pyramid, Hello My Plate!

The USDA's Latest Dietary Guidelines

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) finally kicked the Food Guide Pyramid to the curb and unveiled My Plate this week.  The major differences between the plate and pyramid are the following…

  • “Meat and Legumes” has been re-labeled “Protein” – Yay!
  • “Sugars and fats” has been eliminated.
  • The amount of grains has been decreased.  I would have preferred this to be labeled as “whole grains”, but I’m patient.  Give it time.
  • Dairy is still there, but at least it is off the plate and on the side.
  •  Americans are asked to fill AT LEAST half of their plates with fruits and vegetables
  • Encourages us to enjoy our food, but eat less.  Chances are, if half of their plate is loaded with fruits and veggies, the caloric intake will decrease as well.
  • With regard to whole grains, the USDA does ask that at least half of our grain intake is from whole grains.  FYI: Remember, something that claims it is “made with whole grain” does not make the whole product whole grain.”  Watch those tricky labels!
  • Switch to low-fat dairy (Y’all know my opinion on this one!)
  • Watch your sodium intake.  But they do not give the reader any guidelines as to how much is too much.
  • Encourages people to drink water in place of sugary drinks.
  • Did you notice that physical activity is not mentioned a single time?!

I encourage you to check out the site yourself and see what it has to offer (http://http://www.choosemyplate.gov).  There is a variety of resources there including:  diet analysis, tips for weight loss, and a “personalized” plan.  You can even look up a food and see where it would land on the plate, and how many calories it has. I must warn you though that the food database is quite limited right now.  Hopefully it will get better with time.

Look Familiar?

AICR's New American Plate (circ. 2004)

I find this new “My Plate” concept eerily similar to the American Institute for Cancer Research’s (AICR) “New American Plate” which I was referring people to seven years.  I have to say that at least My Plate leaves the “animal protein” out.  Although AICR’s version does specify “whole grains”.

If I could have any plate, my choice would be The Power Plate created by Physicians of Responsible Medicine (PCRM).  It  looks an awful lot like the one the USDA approved. Pretty much the only thing missing is the dairy.  For more information on the Power Plate, click on the image or visit http://www.thepowerplate.org.

So there’s the latest and greatest.  Now at least you are informed.  Please keep in mind that the main purpose of the USDA is to look out for the interests of America’s Agriculture, not necessarily the health of Americans.  That being said, it is amazing to see how these guidelines are in direct contrast to who receives the most agricultural subsidies from the tax payers (namely the meat and dairy industries).  Here is a very interesting article on this very topic http://www.pcrm.org/news/usda_food_plate_federal_subsidies_meat_dairy_110602.html

There are a lot of alternative plates out there.  Dig a little and check them out to determine which one is best for you.


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