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 Claire Posted by Claire Blais, a Registered Dietician at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

For most of our lives, we looked to the Food Pyramid ("MyPyramid") to show us how many servings we need every day from each of the food groups.  However, times are changing and so are the shapes we use to understand how much food we should be eating. Pyramids are out, and round plates are in.

Many nutritionists felt MyPyramid was too confusing for people. This past June, the United States Department of Agriculture announced a new symbol to help people learn to eat healthy. To help make MyPlate a little easier to understand, we figured we’d break it down for you here.

MyPlate Blue 
The new MyPlate shows a placemat with a plate divided into different sections for protein, grains, fruits, and vegetables.  The small circle off to the side is for dairy, and the shape is not an accident.  They’re hoping that you get the hint that milk and yogurt are better choices for dairy than cheese, as long as they are fat-free or low-fat.

You’ll notice there’s no longer a section for “oils”.  We noticed, too.  Most people consume the fat they need just through their regular food intake alone.

Half the plate is reserved for fruits and vegetables.  Many nutritionists have taught this “balanced plate” method for years, because it is easier both to teach and to understand than actual serving sizes.  It’s not always understood that one serving of blueberries is ¾ cup, while one serving of strawberries is 1¼ cups.

The other half of the plate is dedicated to the grains and the protein.  What we’d like to point out here is that potatoes – in any form – belong in the grains section.  Yes, technically, potatoes are vegetables.  But your body uses them more like grains.  So save yourself some starch, and don’t have fries and rice at the same meal.

Be sure to check back throughout the rest of summer and fall for more MyPlate-themed blogs.  We’ll be showing you how to bring MyPlate to cookouts, back to school, and to holiday parties!  After all, what good is this plate going to do if we don’t teach you how to use it?  Happy eating!


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