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Goodbye, pyramid: USDA unveils MyPlate

As you may have heard, the U.S. Department of Agriculture today unveiled MyPlate, in an effort to encourage people to make healthier food choices. The plate replaces the old food pyramid, a visual introduced in 1992 that many found complex and confusing.

The new image is simple - a plate divided into four sections (fruits, vegetables, protein and grains), giving people a clear picture of what they should see when they sit down at the dinner table. Next to the plate is a smaller circle representing dairy products. Robert Post, deputy director of the USDA’S Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, told USA Today:

The symbol is part of a healthy eating initiative that will convey seven key messages from the government's dietary guidelines, including: enjoy food but eat less; avoid oversized portions; make half your plate fruits and vegetables; drink water instead of sugary drinks; switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk; compare sodium in foods; and make at least half your grains whole grains.

I asked Lynn Dennie, MS, RD, director of clinical nutrition at Stanford Hospital & Clinics, what she thought about MyPlate. "Time will tell if the MyPlate icon helps people to better understand the nutritional messages of balance, variety, moderation and adequacy," she told me this morning. "If this new icon can assist people to effectively adopt the recommendations of the dietary guidelines, it will be a success."

Photo from USDA

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