MyPlate

My Plate from choosemyplate.govThe USDA launched a new nutritional graphic, ChooseMyPlate, in mid-2011 after years of using a pyramid-shaped food guide. MyPlate serves as a quick, simple depiction of how to eat according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans; including foods from all five food groups.

MyPlate is meant to provide very general guidelines. For each meal, divide the plate into approximately four quadrants and fill each with lean meats, beans or nuts, grainsfruits and vegetables. Add a glass of milk and/or include a serving of cheese or yogurt and you have a complete meal. MyPlate is essentially an example of what a “balanced meal” should look like.

Eating this way will help Americans close the nutrition gap between what is recommended and what they actually eat, especially in the "under-consumed" food groups like low-fat dairy products, fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

This simple illustration is a great start for basic nutrition education; it is important to remember that MyPlate is merely a symbol. Only in-depth nutrition education can effectively teach individuals the skills needed to make healthy decisions. All of Dairy Council of California programs for educators and health professionals align with the most recent USDA Dietary Guidelines and play a vital role in teaching children and adults the necessary skills needed to make positive healthy changes. When paired with a commitment to family meals and ongoing physical activities, eating balanced meals the “MyPlate way” can create lasting changes in the health of Americans.

MyPlate and MyPyramid are meant to teach consumers how to put into practice the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The table below shows the number of servings recommended in the Guidelines for a healthy adult consuming a 2000-calorie diet. To find specific recommendations for your age and activity level, take the quick online tool, Healthy Eating My Way.

How Does Your Eating Stack Up to MyPlate?

Are you eating the foods recommended by MyPlate? Assess what you are eating and make a plan to improve with the three easy steps of the Healthy Eating Planner. In a few minutes you will know which MyPlate food groups you need to include more of in your diet. The Healthy Eating Planner is also the perfect tool for teaching to eat healthy using the MyPlate model. 

MyPlate vs. MyPyramid

If you’ve been wondering how to teach nutrition since the MyPlate icon was launched you are not alone. A lot of educators are asking if they can use MyPlate along with their existing MyPyramid educational materials.

The answer is: YES, continue to use any lessons or materials you have found to be good teaching tools for your audience. Why? Because the information about what and how much to eat has not changed—both MyPyramid and MyPlate are illustrations that are based on the same food groups about what and how much to eat.

Food Group Amount What is it? Equivalent amounts
Grains 6 ounces Any bread, pasta, cereal or rice
Choose at least 3 ounces from whole grains—whole-wheat flour, oatmeal, bulgur, brown rice
2-ounce equivalents:
2 slices of bread
1/2 bagel
2 tortillas
1 cup cooked rice
1 cup cooked pasta
Fruit 2 cups Any fruit or 100% fruit juice
Can be frozen, canned, raw, cooked, dried
Choose from a variety of colors
1-cup equivalents:
Small banana, apple, mango
8 ounces orange juice
32 grapes
1/2 c
Vegetables 2.5 cups Any vegetable, 100% vegetable juice or beans
Can be frozen, canned, raw, cooked, dried
Choose from a variety of colors
1-cup equivalents:
1 cup cooked bok choy, kale, spinach
12 baby carrots
1 cup cooked beans
2 cups lettuce
Milk & Milk Products 3 cups Milk and foods made from milk
Choose fat-free and low-fat products
1-cup equivalents:
1 cup milk
1-1/2 ounces hard cheese
1 cup yogurt
1 cup pudding
Meats, Beans & Nuts 5.5 ounces All foods made from meat, poultry, fish; dry beans or peas; eggs, nuts and seeds
Choose lean meats
Choose fish, nuts or seeds over meat and poultry
1-ounce equivalents:
1 ounce poultry, fish, meat
1 egg
12 almonds
1 tablespoon peanut butter
1/4 cup tofu
1/4 cup cooked beans

 

Because fats and oils contain essential fatty acids, there is an allowance for 6 teaspoons of oils in the food guide. However, most people consume enough oil in the foods that they eat, such as nuts, fish, cooking oil and salad dressing.

Several food groups are under-consumed by most Americans; specifically, vegetables, fruits, milk and whole grains. The specific recommendations for under-consumed food groups are:

Vegetables:
  • Eat more dark green vegetables.
  • Eat more orange vegetables.
  • Eat more dry beans and peas.
Fruit
  • Eat a variety of fruit.
  • Choose fresh, frozen, dried and canned fruit.
  • Go easy on fruit juices.
Milk:
  • Go low-fat or fat-free.
  • If you don’t or can’t consume milk, choose lactose-free products or other foods within the group, like cheese or yogurt.
Grains:
  • Eat at least 3 ounces of whole-grain bread, cereal, crackers, rice or pasta every day.
  • Look for the word "whole" before the grain name on the list of ingredients.