At last after more than a decade of having to view a pyramid that made little sense, the USDA’s office replaced the food pyramid with a new dietary advice graphic called “MyPlate”.
MyPlate is simpler and easier to understand and visually at least, makes more sense.
The new dietary advice graphic MyPlate, displays two plates; a large one that has been divided into four and a smaller one meant exclusively for dairy products. The four sections of the large MyPlate represent four food groups. These four food groups are fruits, vegetables, grains and proteins (meats and poultry).
Grains form a major food group in the new MyPlate graphic. Grains are brown rice, wheat, oats, barley, cornmeal and whole grain.
Popular foods that contain whole grains are brown bread, oatmeal, pasta, tortillas, breakfast cereals and grits.
To follow the new MyPlate graphic seriously, you should plan to consume only whole grain products. If you do need to buy refined grain products (white flour, white bread, white rice), make sure it is enriched with vitamins by checking the ingredient list for the word “enriched” on the package. Also, some foods might be made from a mix of whole grains and refined grains.
Vegetables are yet another major group in the new MyPlate graphic. Any vegetable or pure vegetable juice that you consume is a member of the Vegetable Group.
Some vegetables need to be cooked while others can be consumed raw (be sure you know which need to be cooked). These days most superstores also stock canned and dried vegetables. While these too can be consumed, it is always advisable to procure and consume fresh vegetables because fresh vegetables always have a higher nutrition value as compared to any other variety.
Fruits occupy a place of prominence in the new MyPlate graphic. All fruits and fruit juices are part of this group.
Like vegetables, fruits too must be purchased fresh and consumed fresh. It is best to eat the fruit (after peeling if required) by inserting directly into the mouth rather than turning it into a juice or puree. This is because fruits contain power antioxidants. To get maximum benefit out of these, fruits should oxidize only in our mouth or stomach and not in a blender.
Dairy Products in the new MyPlate graphic can be gauged by the fact that they have been given a separate plate all to itself.
Dairy milk and milk products are all members of the dairy group in the new MyPlate graphic. If you lead an active lifestyle, consume full cream or full fat milk. If your lifestyle is less than active, consume low fat milk and low fat milk products.
Proteins are another food group that continues to occupy a place of prominence in the MyPlate graphic – i.e. beans, peas, poultry products, meats and seafood are important sources of proteins.
While buying meats, to whatever extent possible, ensure it is free from skin and fat. If you do buy meats with skin attached (as in whole chicken), remove the skin and any fat from the meat before cooking. Your protein should be as lean as possible.
Now that you know how to read MyPlate guidelines, check out what’s missing in the MyPlate picture 😉