I’d like to introduce to you the US government’s new food pyramid – it’s called my Plate or myPlate. You may not have met.
For years, the USDA’s nutrition guidelines for the five food groups was presented in the shape of a pyramid.
Many international governments and health agencies have had versions of the pyramid. The pyramid shape generally gives a proportional representation as to the volume of food from each of the various food groups a person should aim to eat, whether they be five food groups, six, seven or another number.
Eat the majority of food from the base of the pyramid; eat in moderation foods in the narrow top. In fact, depending on which nutrition food pyramid you reference, the pinnacle of the pyramid often represents optional fats, dessert or junk food.
The nutritional food pyramid was a concept familiar to school children in the US for decades until now.
A New Food Pyramid Takes Shape
In June 2011, the USDA unveiled its new five food groups diagram. The food pyramid, like the Egyptian pyramids at Giza centuries before, was obsolete.
A new food pyramid was born or, more accurately, transformed into the USDA’s Myplate or My Plate diagram.
The idea behind the change to a new food pyramid is that a plate is where most of us eat our food (except for all that munching directly from the package in front of the TV). With the plate shape, it was thought, the public could better imagine relative portion size among the various food groups, than with a pyramid.
… It wasn't bad logic. When was the last time you ate your food on a pyramid?
The Skinny on the New Food Pyramid – The USDA’s Myplate
The basic nutrition guidelines of the USDA's New Food Pyramid - My Plate or Myplate - are straightforward and, in fact, not much different than the USDA’s old food pyramid.
The old food pyramid, like
all USDA nutrition guidelines, was modified regularly every few years,
after much haggling among food industry players and nutrition and health
experts. The protracted discussion and negotiation suggests the food
pyramid, like the new food pyramid myplate, was as much a political as a
public health document.
Factors to Remember with the New Food Pyramid - Myplate
There are three points to remember when considering USDA's My Plate.
We should balance calories:
Foods we should increase:
Foods to reduce:
Click here for more info about
USDA's Myplate/My Plate
Limitations on the USDA’s New Food Pyramid – My Plate
There are some drawbacks to the USDA’s New Food Pyramid.
While some of its recommendations about the five foods groups are laudable (eat more veg and fruit), some are not as clear or forceful as they could be, in light of a mountain of scientific evidence showing how food (including the good, the bad and the ugly) affect our health.
The unfortunate result is that some important messages about diet and health are obscured or confusing – a troubling situation for a public health document that is so widely disseminated in schools, hospitals and elsewhere.
Being the major government position on diet and nutrition, My Plate/Myplate has influence. It is the basis on which thousands of institutions and people choose the foods they serve or eat. The result? ... The guidelines influence the diet of hundreds of thousands.
Here is a smattering of issues on which the USDA’s new food pyramid – My plate – remains silent or unclear when it comes to the five food groups.
So … why are some of these important dietary directives absent from the USDA My plate guidelines?
Shouldn't the government's new food pyramid represent the latest in nutrition and health research?
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist (or a nutrition scientist for that matter) to recognize that political factors influence the bottom line message a government agency like the USDA will issue about the health of certain foods or substances; especially when the agency represents both food industry players’ interests and consumers’ health and nutrition interests.
Don’t forget it’s the Department of Agriculture!
No wonder interests may collide when the latest nutrition research suggest that a person reduce or eliminate certain foods like animal protein, dairy, sugar and trans fats from one’s diet. Such advice, while good for health, could affect directly and, for the worse, the economic well being of food industry players.
Changes to the USDA’s new food pyramid along with
changes to government food guidelines in general are like dealing cards
on a hot grill – fingers get burned and the kitchen can get too hot for
Harvard School of Public Health’s New Food Pyramid and response to USDA my plate/myplate – Harvard’s alternative Healthy Eating Plate
To deal with some of this criticism of the USDA’s New Food Pyramid’s My Plate, The Harvard School of Public Health published its own New Food Pyramid in Sept 2011 – The school calls it the Healthy Eating Plate
While similar to the USDA myplate, Harvard’s Healthy Eating Plate contains much more detailed nutrition advice than does the USDA’s version of the new food pyramid. For that reason the Harvard plate is easier to understand and gives superior nutrition advice, especially for those who want to include animal products in their diet.
The result is that Harvard’s New Food Pyramid reflects
current nutritional and health research more accurately and more
effectively than the government’s new food pyramid.
Harvard’s Healthy Eating Plate gives additional details on what a person should include as part of a healthy well balanced diet. Just as importantly, it gives … the why along with what to avoid.
A Healthy Diet Involves Choice – Healthy foods belong on the plate – Unhealthy foods stay off or have a minor place
As the US epidemic of obesity and lifestyle diseases stemming in part from poor diet testify, calories are not unlimited.
A healthy diet cannot be about onlyeating as many healthy foods as possible: it’s got to be about choosing the right healthy foods in the right amounts and, as importantly, avoiding the unhealthy ones. We each have to make decisions about the quantity as well as the quality of what we put in our mouths.
Harvard’s Healthy Eating Plate makes this clear; the USDA’s My plate leaves this fuzzy with much wiggle room for unhealthy eating.
Harvard’s New Food Pyramid – the Healthy Eating Plate
Some of the important diet tips from the Harvard Healthy Eating Plate are below:
For more info on how the Harvard Healthy Eating Plate differs from the USDA’s My Plate, go to
a discussion on Harvard's Healthy Eating Plate and USDA's My Plate - tthe two new food pyramids.
Another Plate to Consider At your Table- The Power Plate
There is another new nutrition pyramid on the block.
The Power Plate, developed by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in Jan 2011, aims to promote health via a plant based diet - also known as a vegan diet.
The Power Plate dietary theory is backed by extensive research on how a plant based diet, comprised solely of fruits, legumes (beans, lentils and peas), grains and vegetables can prevent and even reverse many of the major lifestyle diseases that plague those who eat the typical animal based Western diet. These include type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and some types of cancer.
Other benefits of a plant based or vegan diet are lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels as well as easier weight control.
Some Points to Consider When Following The Power Plate Diet
Press here for more information from the Physician's Committee on Responsible Medicine on why you would want to consider a plant based diet like the Power Plate.
For more about healthy diets, click on the below links...
Click here to read about the Benefits of Supplements and whether you need them.
Click here to readd about Digestive Enzymes.
Click here to read about Omega 3s and healthy fats.
Click here to read about the Benefits of Vitamin C.
Click here to read about the Benefits of Vitamin D.
Click here to read about Calcium.
Click here to read about Chromium.
Click to read about the benefits of organic food.
Click to read about a cancer prevention diet.
Click to read about a cancer and nutrition.
Click to read about a cancer fighting diet.
Click here to read about Anti-oxidants and Orac Values,
To read more about maintaining even blood sugar, click on Low Glycemic Diets.
For current news on nutrition and food research, check Healthy Diet News Blog.
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