Food Guide Facts
Goodbye, pyramid. Hello, plate.
The Food Guide Pyramid was the model for healthy eating in the United States. Maybe you had to memorize its rainbow stripes in school. But the USDA, the agency in charge of nutrition, has switched to a new symbol: a colorful plate — called MyPlate — with some of the same messages:
· Eat a variety of foods.
· Eat less of some foods and more of others.
The pyramid had six vertical stripes to represent the five food groups plus oils. The plate features four sections (vegetables, fruits, grains, and protein) plus a side order of dairy in blue.
Protein: Beef; poultry; fish; eggs; nuts and seeds; and beans and peas like black beans, split peas, lentils, and even tofu and veggie burgers. Protein builds up, maintains, and replaces the tissues in your body.
The big message is that fruits and vegetables take up half the plate, with the vegetable portion being a little bigger than the fruit section.
And just like the pyramid where stripes were different widths, the plate has been divided so that the grain section is bigger than the protein section. Why? Because nutrition experts recommend you eat more vegetables than fruit and more grains than protein foods.
The divided plate also aims to discourage super-big portions, which can cause weight gain.
What's a Grain Again?
You know what fruits and vegetables are, but here's a reminder about what's included in the three other food groups: protein, grains, and dairy:
Grains: Bread, cereal, rice, tortillas, and pasta. Whole-grain products such as whole-wheat bread, oatmeal, and brown rice are recommended because they have more fiber and help you feel full.
Dairy: Milk, yogurt, cheese, and fortified soy milk. With MyPlate, the dairy circle could be a cup of milk, but you also can get your dairy servings from yogurt or cheese. Choose low-fat or nonfat dairy most of the time.