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'My Plate' Replaces Food Pyramid

The pyramid has become a plate. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has introduced a plate-shaped depiction of the government’s dietary guidelines. The plate is divided into four sections, vegetables, fruits, grains and proteins, with a fifth section, dairy, positioned like an adjacent cup.

Fruits and vegetables take up half of the new plate icon, with the vegetable portion being larger. Grains and proteins (such as meats and beans) occupy the other half.

The pyramid, introduced in 1992, never caught on.The USDA first displayed dietary guidelines as a pyramid in 1992. Since then, the nation’s obesity rate has skyrocketed and the pyramid has been criticized as confusing and ineffective.

“When mom or dad comes home from a long day of work, we’re already asked to be a chef, a referee, a cleaning crew. So it’s tough to be a nutritionist, too,” says First Lady Michelle Obama. “But we do have time to take a look at our kids’ plates. As long as they’re half full of fruits and vegetables, and paired with lean proteins, whole grains and low-fat dairy, we’re golden.”

"The new My Plate icon is certainly more practical and intuitive than the previous My Pyramid icon," says Campbell Soup Co. spokesperson Juli Mandel Sloves.

On its My Plate website, the USDA emphasizes three steps families can take to eat healthily:

Balancing Calories
● Enjoy your food, but eat less.
● Avoid oversized portions.

Foods to Increase
● Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
● Make at least half your grains whole grains.
● Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.

Foods to Reduce
● Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals ― and choose the foods with lower numbers.
● Drink water instead of sugary drinks.

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