In a previous blog post, the new updates in the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines were reviewed. These guidelines have a goal of promoting health and preventing disease. One of the tools to help meet this goal is called MyPlate. MyPlate originates back from the Food Pyramid and has been updated to reflect the current research. MyPlate serves as a basic tool to help point the general public in the right direction in following the Dietary Guidelines and meeting nutrient requirements.
MyPlate is a great place to start as it’s simple and straightforward to use. In alliance with the guidelines, you can customize the food choices to meet your personal preferences. As you can see from the picture, MyPlate gives a visual illustration of what your plate should look like. Emphasis is placed on half of the plate being fruits and vegetables, one quarter of the plate quality and lean proteins, and the remaining quarter for grains, half of which should be whole grains. In addition to these food groups, dairy is also included. There’s a little more than what meets the eye when it comes to what is included in each food group. Let’s look a little deeper!
Any whole fruit or 100% fruit juice can be included in this group. You can choose fresh, canned, frozen, or dried. The amount of fruit you need in a day varies from person to person depending on age, sex, and activity level. Recommendations range from 1-2 cups per day.
Similar to fruits, any whole vegetable or 100% vegetable juice counts in the vegetable group. Veggies can be eaten raw or cooked, and be fresh, frozen, or canned. The vegetable group is further divided into 5 subgroups including dark green; red and orange; beans, peas, and lentils; starchy; and other vegetables. Recommendations range from 1-3 cups per day depending on age, sex, and activity level.
Protein sources can be from both animals as well as plants. Animal sources include lean meat, poultry, and seafood. Plant proteins include nuts, seeds, and legumes (e.g., beans, peas, and lentils). It is important to note vegetarians and vegans can meet their protein needs through plants alone when done properly.
Grains contain important vitamins, minerals, and also fiber. During the milling process, some of these nutrients can be lost which is why whole grains are mentioned in MyPlate. Whole grains contain all three parts of a grain kernel. Refined grains typically contain only one of the three pieces. Examples of whole grains include: whole grain pasta or bread products, oats or oatmeal, brown or wild rice, and plain popcorn.
Within the dairy group, you can find milk, yogurt, cheese, lactose-free milk, and fortified soy milk and yogurt. Cream cheese, sour cream, cream, and butter are not included within the dairy group when talking about MyPlate. This is not to say these items are “bad” and should be avoided. However, they shouldn’t make up a majority of our meals.
MyPlate can provide the framework for your meals to help meet your nutrient recommendations. Now that you’ve learned a little more, challenge yourself to make MyPlate, your plate!