Exploring the sense and nonsense of food and health

My Take on My Plate

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I think just about every food and diet blogger has commented on the hot topic of the USDA MyPlate introduced last week. Not to feel left out – here are some thoughts.

What I Like

  • The plate icon relates to people eating real foods.
  • Is a quick graphic indicating the types of foods people should eat at a glance and in what proportions relative to each other.
  • It does not contain the confusing servings information.  Most people don’t know what a serving is.
  • Grains are no longer the emphasized food as shown on the old pyramid (at the very bottom)
  • Children should be able to relate to this icon easily.
  • The old Pyramid was in need of a replacement and the plate icon was the likely solution.

What I Don’t Like

  • Why did they miss an instant message opportunity to promote “Whole Grains” – instead they just said “Grains”.  This leaves the refined grains in the picture (unless you dig deeper into the Plate messages)
  • Why is there a Protein and a Dairy section?  Dairy products are good sources of protein especially for some vegans.
  • It also suggests that dairy should be included in every meal.  Dairy is not the sole source for calcium –  many green vegetables contain more available calcium. It appears that the government is still pandering to the dairy industry.
  • Why is the government promoting fruits and vegetables without subsidizing them as they do grain crops (wheat, corn, soy.

Where do the healthy fats fit in?  Fat is necessary in the diet.  Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats has been the subject of recent research for their health benefits.  They could have had a small area outside the plate.  You have to dig very much deeper into the plate online messages to find anything about fats and oils.

MyPlate is simple, not confusing, and will be a constant reminder to consumers about its primary message – eat more fruits, vegetables, and grains and use meats in lesser amounts.

All in all, this icon will most likely not contribute a lot to the consumer knowledge about healthy diets or solve the obesity problem.  Some problems may arise when people try to visualize their pizzas, burritos, tacos, chili, pasta dishes and sandwiches on the plate.  It will be interesting to observe how the food companies will try to fit their particular food products onto the plate and if they display the icon on their labels.


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One thought on “My Take on My Plate

  1. Pingback: The Epigenetics Project Blog

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