What’s On Your Plate?

By Christine Monson, Naval Hospital Jacksonville, Fla. Wellness Center intern

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has unveiled a new food guide, which appears in the shape of a plate, after much scrutiny over the past twenty years.

With alarming rates of obesity in the U.S. (estimated at two-thirds of adults and one-third of children) show that many people could improve their observance of healthy eating standards. The new food guide seeks to make nutrition guidelines easier for everyone to understand.

 The USDA’s “My Plate” is the new icon for healthy nutrition. It’s divided into four labeled sections. Fruits and vegetables make up half the plate, and grains and protein make up the other half. Dairy appears as a blue circle, representing a cup.

My Plate is based on the 2010 USDA dietary guidelines. The new design is intended to give Americans a quick and easy visual guide to making better food choices. Meals should look like the My Plate diagram, with fruits and vegetables making up half the plate.

Most Americans are used to the pyramid shape of the old guide, but it should be an easy adjustment to My Plate. No matter what shape the food recommendations are — a square, triangle, diamond, or circle — the bottom line is learning how to eat right.  

Over the years consumers have been bombarded with so much food information, when all that’s needed is to take a simple look at the best way to gain healthy nourishment. My Plate helps do just that. So choose My Plate to create a balanced meal.

Tips from USDA’s My Plate:

  • Enjoy food, but eat less
  • Avoid oversized portions
  • Make half of the plate fruits and vegetables
  • Make at least half of the grains whole grains
  • Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk
  • Reduce the use of sodium; check the nutrition facts label
  • Drink water instead of sugary drinks (like soda or sports drinks)