My Plate: Better than Pyramid

By Pete Williams

The New Pyramid

The USDA’s unveiling yesterday of “MyPlate” as a replacement for the decades-old, often confusing “food pyramid,” is a welcome change. By providing a color-coded, easy-to-follow plate graphic, the government has provided a guide for its increasingly obese population.

The plate calls for 50 percent fruits and vegetables and the only argument might be that it’s not enough. It’s also curious that 100 percent fruit juice is lumped in with fruits, even though fruit juice has all of sugar but little of the fiber provided by the fruit itself.

According to MyPlate, just 20 percent of the plate should be protein, which probably is less than what many Americans consume. Most nutritionists prescribe a daily allowance of 0.8 grams per protein per kilogram of body weight – or about 0.36 grams per pound.

The USDA provides a comprehensive list of proteins, stressing lean cuts. Fats don’t get a separate category, but there are instructions to select seafood that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, trout, sardines, anchovies, herring, Pacific oysters, and Atlantic and Pacific mackerel.

Thirty percent grains – whole grain or not – seems a bit high but most Americans won’t give up their bread and pasta easily. The distinction between whole grain and refined grains is spelled out in detail. A side dish/cup of daily is a fraction of what the traditional food pyramid provided.

Given the food pyramid’s overemphasis on breads, dairy, and cereals, MyPlate is a welcome change. Many of us have given little thought to the food pyramid since junior high health class. Today’s schoolchildren, formatted by No Child Left Behind and teaching to the test, probably don’t even get that. Still, it’s positive news when the government revamps its guidelines to match the recommendations of the experts.

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Filed under Nutrition, Training

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