As many adults in the United States were growing up, we learned about the food pyramid in school. The pyramid featured a small amount of fats at the top of the triangle and more grains at the bottom. The USDA replaced the outdated food pyramid with the MyPlate guidelines that focus on a more balanced approach that works with real meals.

Let’s take a closer look at the U.S. MyPlate guidelines:

  • Focus on fruits: The fruit serving can be either juice or whole fruits as well as canned or frozen. Fruits, along with vegetables should make up half of your plate.
  • Vary your vegetables: The nutrient content of vegetables varies a great deal. The USDA has organized them into several categories including dark green vegetables, starchy vegetables, red and orange vegetables, peas and beans, and “other” vegetables which include foods like Brussels sprouts, cucumbers, and mushrooms.
  • Make at least half your grains whole: The biggest change between the old style food pyramid and the MyPlate initiative is the change in the status of grains in our diets. Whole grains are things such as whole wheat, brown rice, and oatmeal. Refined grains are white bread and white rice. The USDA suggests that grains should take up a quarter of your plate and at least half of those should be whole grains.
  • Go lean with protein: Protein is an essential nutrient that our bodies need to function normally. However, there are smart choices you can make in regards to the protein you consume. A variety of proteins are recommended as part of the MyPlate guidelines. Lean cuts of meat, fish, and poultry are good choices. Non-meat proteins can be found in beans, eggs, soy products, and nuts.
  • Get your calcium rich foods: While dairy products contain fat, they also contain the essential mineral calcium that our bodies need for healthy bones. Fat-free or low fat milk and dairy products are recommended.

The USDA website for the MyPlate guidelines provides additional details for a healthy, well-rounded diet.

What is your experience with creating a balanced diet for yourself and your family?

Image by U.S. Department of Agriculture via Flickr


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