Use MyPlate to balance your meals

posted by Sarah Adolf on May 13, 2014 MyPlate

In June 2011, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) replaced the long-used food pyramid representation of nutrition guidelines and replaced it with MyPlate. The USDA’s updated MyPlate diagram features a picture of a plate with a round section for dairy. It recommends roughly 30 percent vegetables, 20 percent fruits, 30 percent grains, 20 percent protein and a serving of dairy for each meal.

The new guidelines focus on making half of your plate fruits and vegetables, switching to 1 percent or skim milk, making half of your grains whole, varying your protein choices and making them leaner (with at least 8 ounces of cooked seafood a week), using portion control, and limiting sodium and sugar intake. MyPlate is divided into five sections including fruits, vegetables, protein, grains and dairy.

MyPlate’s website provides a full description of each food group and their recommended choices. Fruits, vegetables, grains, protein and dairy are divided into their own categories. Each has sections describing different foods in each group, how much you need every day (based on age and sex), what one serving looks like, nutrient information and tips. The website provides information for vegetarians and how they can supplement their protein intake. MyPlate also discusses oils and states that while they are not a food group, they provide essential nutrients and should be consumed in moderation as part of a healthy daily diet.

Their website also provides resources for weight management including a BMI calculator and a SuperTracker, which tracks what you currently eat and drink, then provides a personalized plan to help you make better choices. There is information on physical activity, sample menus and recipes, tips for eating out, food safety advice, and printable materials to use in your home.

FruitsForksThe updated food and nutrition guidelines aren’t supposed to be complicated; it’s supposed to make balancing your meals easier. When MyPlate was first unveiled, First Lady Michelle Obama said, “As long as they’re half full of fruits and vegetables, and paired with lean proteins, whole grains and low-fat dairy, we’re golden. That’s how easy it is.” For more information and access to all of MyPlate’s resources, please visit

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