Healthcare News & Insights

Toss the food pyramid, pass the food plate

The USDA is tossing the long-standing food pyramid of nutritional advice and replacing it with a… plate? The new MyPlate, is meant to help make it easier for people to visualize how much of each type of food they should be eating in a typical day.

The change is needed because many health care providers, nutritionists and other professionals believed the old food pyramid was too confusing and in fact, could create more misunderstandings. The old food pyramid provided only basic visuals (a large base of 6-11 servings of starches, a tip of sweets and fats, etc.) but because there was no serving size guidance, few people realized that, for example, a single bagel (typically considered one “serving”) might well meet the day’s requirements for the starches/grains group.

Even worse, the “new” pyramid which was released a few years ago, had no foods at all actually on it. Instead, it had hard-to-decipher stripes which corresponded to basic food groups and routinely confused patients.

The new tool instead features a dinner plate graphic showing the proportion of the plate which should be filled with each food group at every meal, as well as a circle for a glass of milk or similar-sized serving of dairy foods.

The plate idea is simple and should be easy to explain to patients. It also clarifies some basic nutritional info that is often ignored — for example: Meat shouldn’t be the biggest portion of the meal.

Given the nation’s ongoing issue with obesity, any tool that helps explain good nutrition to the public is a step in the right direction.

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