Make MyPlate YOUR Plate

By Emily Schmitt, RD, LDN, Campus Recreation Services

From 1992-2011, a pyramid guided the American public’s food decisions.  Created by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the pyramid appeared on websites, in textbooks and magazines, and on food packaging across the country.  In 2011, the pyramid disappeared into “nutrition history” and a new image emerged – MyPlate.

Why MyPlate?  The image was changed from a pyramid to a plate – a familiar mealtime visual – to make it easier for consumers to understand how to eat healthfully.  Along with user-friendly messaging, MyPlate promotes the information presented in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, released in January 2011.  The Dietary Guidelines, published every 5 years by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the USDA, provides evidence-based nutrition information for persons 2 years and older.

What key messages are promoted with MyPlate?

Balancing Calories

  • Enjoy your food, but eat less.
  • Avoid oversized portions.

Food to Increase

  • Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
  • Make at least half your grains whole grains.
  • Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.

Foods to Reduce

  • Compare the sodium in your foods and choose foods with lower numbers.
  • Drink water instead of sugary drinks.

Which of the 7 key messages can guide your food decisions today

Keep these in mind throughout your day — whether you are at the grocery store, a restaurant, the Stamp Student Union food court, a Terps sporting event, in front of a vending machine, or in your very own kitchen.

As one message becomes a habit, adopt another, until all 7 guide your food choices.

Want to learn more about MyPlate?  Visit MyPlate’s website to explore the food groups included in MyPlate, review sample meal plans and recipes, and sign up for the free SuperTracker tool.

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