Last Thursday, the USDA introduced the replacement for their Pyramid, MyPlate. My first observation is they appear to have gone to great pains to ensure that it didn’t look like a Pie Chart! Although it might have made as much sense.
MyPlate has some good and bad points:
- Pro: It finally gives fruits and vegetables more emphasis, suggesting that they should be half of what is on your plate.
- Con: What the USDA considers grains encompasses everything from pasta to corn chips. This should really emphasize Whole Grains more and processed foods less.
- Pro: The plate concept is a good one, even if the suggested proportions are not ideal.
- Con: While the plate concept is more logical than the pyramid, there’s not enough information about the size of the plate or the portion sizes.
- Con: The suggestions for dairy are excessive, perhaps influenced by the dairy industry? If you dig deeper on the website, you’ll find a PDF that tells you that children ages 2-3 need 2 cups of dairy per day, ages 4-8 need 2 1/2 cups per day and everyone else (older children, teens and adults) need 3 cups per day. The reality is different. Most of us need no dairy at all. The suggestion is that we need it for calcium and Vitamin D. But be real. Dairy products are fortified with Vitamin D. And calcium? You’re better off getting that from the same source as cows – vegetables!
- Pro: If you read through all of the website, it does suggest that you limit sugary drinks.
- Con: There is no emphasis on either water – the one liquid we should consume most – or exercise – which is critical in controlling weight.
MyPlate is definitely a step in the right direction. But Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition at NYU, was quoted in the New York Times as saying, “It’s better than the pyramid, but that’s not saying a lot.”