MyPlate: New USDA Guidelines
Remember the “Four Food Groups” and the “Food Pyramid”? Well, did you know that new guidelines have been released for eating a healthier diet? In June 2011 MyPlate replaced MyPyramid as a fresh new look at the five important food groups the USDA uses to encourage a healthy, balanced diet. I just wanted to share this new program with all of our readers and I have included list of examples of each group to help inspire you in your meal planning!
This simple model is designed to make it easier to see and understand what an ideal meal should look like, right down to which foods we should be eating most of. Notice that fruits and vegetable should take up half of our plates! That leaves the rest for protein and grains. One other notable change is the removal of the word “meat”. Instead, the USDA has gone with “proteins” which include a variety of meat, fish, poultry, as well as vegetarian options.
The new MyPlate graphic along with these guidelines make up a great plan for healthy living:
•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.
100% Fruit juice:
Dark green vegetables
dark green leafy lettuce
Red & Orange Vegetables
Beans and peas*
black-eyed peas (mature, dry)
garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
fresh cowpeas, field peas, or black-eyed peas (not dry)
green lima beans
iceberg (head) lettuce
Any food made from wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley or another cereal grain is a grain product. Bread, pasta, oatmeal, breakfast cereals, tortillas, and grits are examples of grain products.
Grains are divided into 2 subgroups, whole grains and refined grains.
Whole grains contain the entire grain kernel ― the bran, germ, and endosperm. Examples include:
•bulgur (cracked wheat)
Refined grains have been milled, a process that removes the bran and germ. This is done to give grains a finer texture and improve their shelf life, but it also removes dietary fiber, iron, and many B vitamins. Some examples of refined grain products are:
Most refined grains are enriched. This means certain B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folic acid) and iron are added back after processing. Fiber is not added back to enriched grains. Check the ingredient list on refined grain products to make sure that the word “enriched” is included in the grain name. Some food products are made from mixtures of whole grains and refined grains.
Some commonly eaten grain products are:
bulgur (cracked wheat)
Ready-to-eat breakfast cereals:
whole wheat cereal flakes
whole grain barley
whole grain cornmeal
whole wheat bread
whole wheat crackers
whole wheat pasta
whole wheat sandwich buns and rolls
whole wheat tortillas
Ready-to-eat breakfast cereals:
white sandwich buns and rolls
*Try to make at least 50% of your grains whole grains!
All foods made from meat, poultry, seafood, beans and peas, eggs, processed soy products, nuts, and seeds are considered part of the Protein Foods Group. Beans and peas are also part of the Vegetable Group.
Select a variety of protein foods to improve nutrient intake and health benefits, including at least 8 ounces of cooked seafood per week. Young children need less, depending on their age and calories needs. The advice to consume seafood does not apply to vegetarians. Vegetarian options in the Protein Foods Group include beans and peas, processed soy products, and nuts and seeds. Meat and poultry choices should be lean or low-fat.
Lean cuts of:
Lean ground meats:
Lean luncheon or deli meats
ground chicken and turkey
Beans and peas
chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
lima beans (mature)
Processed soy products:
tofu (bean curd made from
Nuts and seeds*
Finfish such as:
Shellfish such as:
Canned fish such as:
*Remember to choose lean cuts of meat!
All fluid milk products and many foods made from milk are considered part of this food group. Most Dairy Group choices should be fat-free or low-fat. Foods made from milk that retain their calcium content are part of the group. Foods made from milk that have little to no calcium, such as cream cheese, cream, and butter, are not. Calcium-fortified soymilk (soy beverage) is also part of the Dairy Group.
all fluid milk:
low fat (1%)
reduced fat (2%)
hard natural cheeses:
whole milk yogurt
For more information on this program and the USDA’s healthy eating guidelines you can visit www.ChooseMyPlate.org.