The new MyPlate icon for good eating was unveiled last Thursday.
I Like it! It’s definitely a big step in the right direction.
The most compelling features are its visual simplicity and overall message. As Michelle Obama noted in the unveiling ceremony, what can be simpler than a plate? Parents are busy, she said, they don’t have time to weigh and measure portion sizes and ounces “but we do have time to take a look at our kids’ plates”.
Here’s what I like about MyPlate:
• Half of MyPlate is fruits and veggies, with the veggies occupying more territory than the fruit. If I had to pick just one dietary change that could really make a difference and reduce the rates of obesity and several chronic diseases, I’d go with “eat more plants”. If half the plate is fruits and veggies, these automatically replace more caloric dense foods and there’s evidence that fruits and veggies reduce the risk of many ailments.
• MyPlate is memorable and easy to use. Comparing your meal to the MyPlate icon is a very simple way to judge its healthfulness. It’s easy to visualize that a muffin or donut breakfast doesn’t conform. It’s easy to envision that a bag of chips and a soda for lunch doesn’t conform. It’s easy to see that a steak and French fries dinner – with a handful of peas and a sprig of parsley garnish – doesn’t conform either. It’s also clearly apparent that fast food meals -- I dare say not even one of them -- don't resemble MyPlate.
• There’s no meat on MyPlate. Sure, protein is code for meat, and its mention is probably just enough to keep the meat industry happy. On the other hand protein can be fish, tofu nuts and beans, and MyPlate is open to personal interpretation. I agree with Marion Nestle, who says that “Protein is not exactly lacking in American diets. The average American consumes twice the protein needed. Grains and dairy, each with its own sector, are important sources of protein in American diets.” Protein, which most people will read as meat, is not something Americans need to be reminded to eat, and is definitely not necessary for a healthy diet, but for now MyPlate with its smaller portion of “protein” is a step in the healthy direction compared to previous guidelines.
• Eat from MyPlate. The food is not in a bag, not in a bucket and not in a box. A plate sends a message of old fashioned sit-by-a-table dining.
• Fork by MyPlate – fork, but no knife. Utensils, again, suggest organized eating – as opposed to eating on the go. Am I reading too much into the absence of a steak knife?
MyPlate is a major upgrade from the MyPyramid predecessor (see below) – the pretty rainbow climb-me-pyramid was so abstract and confusing it was hard not to top with any new icon – and it will be interesting to see how we eaters will react to it.
Related post: The New Dietary Guidelines: Eat Less for Better Health!
Reposted as part of Food Renegate's Fight Back Fridays--go join the food fight!