For nearly 20 years, a familiar, black triangle has been found on the majority of boxes of foods at the supermarket, and its significance taught in school to all grade levels. Last week the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) revealed that an American icon, the Food Pyramid, was officially replaced with the new Choose My Plate.
Why the change? What’s the difference? How can I use it?
With chronic diseases and obesity on the rise, the USDA needed to address the roles of unhealthy foods. In 1992, The Food Pyramid was released to convey three main ideas: variety, proportionality and moderation. But, Americans remained confused about healthy eating and chronic disease related to dietary intake continued to rise. In response the USDA revised the traditional Food Pyramid in 2005 to the MyPyramid.
During the past 20 years there has been a dramatic increase in obesity and chronic disease in the United States despite the effort to inform and encourage patrons to choose healthy foods. To better help the consumer adopt healthy eating habits, the USDA once again improved and simplified the message with a colorful icon called, MyPlate.
According to the press release, MyPlate is “an easy to understand visual cue” that will help people choose foods in a way that is consistent with new dietary guidelines. The new symbol is a plate divided into four color-coded categories: fruits, grains, vegetables, protein. Next to the plate is a circle representing dairy products.
The new icon recommends three simple changes to start eating healthier today; balance calories, increase consumption of certain foods; reduce consumption of other specific types of foods. In order to balance calories one should enjoy food, but eat less and avoid oversized portions.
MyPlate recommends half of your plate be fruits and vegetables. A four of your plate come from whole grains and switch to fat-free or low-fat dairy products. As with the 2010 Dietary Guidelines, MyPlate also suggests avoiding foods high in salt and pass up sugar sweetened beverages.
Use the new MyPlate to evaluate your own plate. If your plate looks dramatically different than the new icon you can start to make simple changes, one step at a time. Think progress, not perfection. Start by incorporating the food groups currently not on your plate or reduce a food group that takes up to much space. You can use the free planning tools available at www.choosemyplate.gov for more information and to check your progress.
As a runner, you want to maximize your performance by maximizing your diet. Runner’s FUEL customized meal plans are based off the MyPlate principals to ensure a balanced amount of nutrients, vitamins and minerals are consistently achieved.
Runner’s FUEL meal plans and the new MyPlate is a great tool for runners to instantly improve the structure, combination, and portion size of key food groups.
FUEL Tip: Don’t think of the new MyPlate as a diet. It’s an eating plan for life and can benefit anyone looking to eat more balanced, nutrient rich foods.