You may be familiar with the online resource MyPyramid.gov, which offers information about the different food groups and the dietary guidelines. Recently, the dietary guidelines have changed, and as a result, so has MyPyramid.gov. The website formerly known as MyPyramid is now known as MyPlate, and with the change came a new look. While the bulk of the information found on the website has stayed the same, there are some great new features in the website designed to be more user-friendly. To be able to fully appreciate these new changes, we must first understand the new dietary guidelines and the reason behind the changes.
On January 31, 2011, the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) released new dietary guidelines for the American population. The new guidelines were created to address the high rate of obesity in our country. One-third of children and the majority of adults are obese in our nation today. Because a smaller waist means decreased risk of chronic diseases, it is time for all of us to decrease our portion size and increase our physical activity. According to ChooseMyPlate.gov:
“The new 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans focus on balancing calories with physical activity, and encourage Americans to consume more healthy foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fat-free and low-fat dairy products, and seafood, and to consume less sodium, saturated and trans fats, added sugars, and refined grains”.
The website stresses that these new guidelines are “designed to remind Americans to eat healthfully; it is not intended to change consumer behavior alone”.
If you have visited MyPyramid.gov before, you will notice that many of the same tools and information are present on the site. What has changed dramatically is the image on the site when you first log on. The MyPlate logo illustrates the 5 food groups using a familiar mealtime visual, a place setting. This image depicts the appropriate amount of each food group you should consume at each meal.
According to the website, MyPlate is part of a larger communications initiative based on 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans to help consumers make better food choices. Along with the general information about each food group, the website also gives some practical tips on how to improve your diet:
• Enjoy your food, but eat less
• Avoid oversized portions
• Make half of your plate fruits and vegetables
• Switch to fat-free or low fat (1%) milk
• Make at least half of your grains whole grains
• Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals-and choose foods with lower numbers
• Drink water instead of sugary drinks
Along with these practical tips, the website also offers many helpful
consumer resources such as:
• “Let’s Eat for the Health of it”, brochure that highlights themes from the guidelines such as: Balancing Calories, Foods to Reduce, and Foods to Increase.
• 10 Tips Series: Nutritional Education series that provides consumers and professionals with easy-to-follow tips in a convenient, printable format.
• Web Resources: Sample menus for a week, food group based recipes, and the Historical Development of Food Guidance.
With all of these helpful and easy-to-use resources right at your fingertips, the only thing holding you back from learning more about healthful eating is you! Just visit the website ChooseMyPlate.gov to start using these handy tools to learn more about the food groups, create your own meal plan, and analyze your diet to find places where you have room for improvement.