The new icon, released in 2011, is designed to remind Americans to eat healthy. It uses a plate setting to illustrate what a healthy meal could look like. The plate contains a section for grains, vegetables, fruits and protein rich foods, such as meats, beans, soy food, etc. The cup represents dairy products.
There are tips associated with each section within MyPlate to help you easily incorporate healthy options when choosing what to eat. These short, catchy phrases will help you remember how to put it all together:
- Fruits – Focus on fruits
- Vegetables – Vary your veggies
- Grains – Make at least half your grains whole
- Dairy – Get your calcium rich foods
- Protein – Go lean with protein
MyPlate resources incorporate selected messages from the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans to help you focus on key behaviors, including
- Balance Calories
- Enjoy your food, but eat less
- Avoid oversized portions
Foods to Increase
- Make half your plate fruits and vegetables
- Switch to fat-free or low-fat (one percent) milk
- Make at least half your grains whole grains
Foods to Reduce
- Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread and frozen meals – choose foods with lower numbers
- Drink water instead of sugary drinks
The MyPlate website describes each food group by giving examples of foods that are included in each group, as well as those that are excluded. This information makes it easier to identify healthy choices when making decisions that affect your diet. MyPlate also focuses on including essential nutrients from oils, defining what empty calories are (foods with added calories but little nutrition), and stressing the importance of incorporating physical activity.
MyPlate is a great educational tool to keep you on track with positive nutrition choices and a healthy lifestyle. For more information on the new USDA icon, please visit www.choosemyplate.gov.