The Pyramid Loses Its Edge and the Plate Is In

by Heather Ferber on June 4, 2011

In 1992, the USDA (United States Dept of Agriculture) established the well known Food Pyramid to help guide Americans to better health and nutrition by highlighting the “right” types of foods we were supposed to be eating.  Unfortunately, the pyramid was not based on any wonderful science; it may have been based on the fact that the U.S. Government was subsidizing grain farmers and American farmers had TONS of grain to sell.  What a great idea!  Tell Americans to eat TONS of grain!  Well, look where that has gotten us 20 years later.

So, this past week, the almost 20 year old Food Pyramid was replaced with MyPlate, “a new generation icon with the intent to prompt consumers to think about building a healthy plate at meal times,” USDA officials said in a press release.  See the lovely plate below.

The Food Pyramid's Replacement

As a very busy wife, mother, entrepreneur, crazy work out freak, and volunteer, I can appreciate this visual much more than the old pyramid (which I really did not embrace since I was 20 years old when it came out and there was no separate alcohol/cigarette/kraft macaroni section of the pyramid).  I can easily take a glance at my hubby’s, children’s, customer’s, friend’s, and others’ plates and estimate half a plate of fruit and veges and half a plate of grains and proteins.  However, I don’t believe that MyPlate is the complete answer to creating better health and nutrition in our nation.  MyPlate has no indication of how big the plate should be…I imagine thousands of people rushing out to Crate & Barrel to purchase super-sized charger plates for dinner.  There’s no indication of how many servings per day of each food group one should be striving to ingest.  And speaking of food groups, since when is “protein” a food group?!  Now, I know none of my blog readers are snackers, but I AM! Where does my snacking fit into this plate? Furthermore, there’s no indication we should be eating our fruits and veges, not drinking them (well, if you are a whole food “juicer” it’s ok to drink them), and that the grains we consume should be whole grains.

“[The Food Pyramid was] not exactly the finest public health message this country has ever generated, I’ll just put it that way,” CNN Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen said recently. “It didn’t convey the message very well.” Oh really?  I have a feeling Ms. Cohen may be have a similar quote 20 years from now regarding The Plate.  Well, MyPlate may not be the perfect either, but I do feel it is an improvement and a step in the right direction for teaching Americans healthier eating.  So, friends, fill up your plates!  (I’ll get back to you on the appropriate plate sizes…but please do not purchase any super-sized charger plates for dining.) And please be sure to take note there is no chocolate or wine “piece of the pie.”  Maybe we can make some suggestions for future plates :)

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