Jun 20

What’s on YOUR plate?

I’ve often said that if we followed the USDA’s Food Pyramid recommendations every day, then we would become a nation facing an epidemic of obesity! Evidently, I wasn’t the only one struggling with these guidelines. By now, you’ve likely heard about the new food pyramid…or rather, MyPlate.

MyPlate

As soon as it was announced, I was pleased with the improvements – most notably, the switch to a single serving or meal from an abstract “to do” list of what to one was supposed to consume in a given day. I also appreciate the move away from “Meat and Beans” to simply “Protein.” After all, whether you eat animal products or not, we’re all better served to have a variety of non-animal sources of protein. It will come as no surprise that I’m particularly pleased with the vegetable category, and while there are lots of vegetables that could fill this section, the very fact that it is green thrills me to no end! And finally, while dishes are traditionally round, there’s something whole and and complete about this filled-in circle that I very much like.

There are, however, ideas that are represented in this plate motif that I struggle with. Since I left off with the beautiful “whole” image of the circle, let’s start there. What’s with the Mickey Mouse ear added to the circle? Doesn’t dairy fall under protein? Why does it need its own circle? Is there sound nutritional findings that support this, or is it more a symbol of the strength of the dairy lobby? And while it’s somewhat more advanced, what about food combining? Does this approach of eating everything in each sitting allow us to get the most out of the foods we eat, or does it ultimately weaken our digestive strength and lead to acidity and imbalance?

I’d also like to see the word “whole” in front of grains. I’m not sure anyone is benefiting from the quantity of bread, crackers, cookies…that we consume in this country. Over the past few years in particular, as gluten-free has become in greater demand, there has been a surge in the number of processed grain, high-sugar, snack foods on the market. These items offer more fast, convenient and gluten-free options, but score much lower when it comes to nutritional value. Somehow we need to cut back on these “filler-foods” (as I describe them to my children), and empower people to increase the whole grains that pack a stronger nutritional punch.

And finally, while I appreciate the rainbow of colors used in this image, I do wish that somewhere in this model there could be room to teach people to eating a rainbow of color and all five tastes! As is stated in CLEAN FOOD,

Eat all the colors of the rainbow

Eat all five tastes

Eat a varied diet

Eat locally grown and seasonal foods

and…

Enjoy your meal and mealtime.

There’s much work ahead to become a nation with healthy eating habits and a sustainable and nutritionally sound food chain. And in spite of its inherent weaknesses, I think MyPlate represents a step in the right direction towards educating and empowering us all to Eat Clean and Live Well!


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2 Comments

  1. s10
    Posted July 10, 2011 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    At first glance I puzzled at the separate circle for dairy but then I thought yogurt, a small plate of cheese, and eventually what I really think is the intention…a glass of milk. Milk being a liquid would spill on the plate. The fact that a fork is shown to the left of the plate indicates that this graphic is not just round to be ‘more like a plate’ but it is intended to be an abstract image of an actual dinner plate.
    I agree that ‘Whole grains’ would be better but I think the intention was to label each category with a single word descriptor. It would also be healthier to title ‘fresh fruit’, ‘fresh vegetables’, ‘lo-fat dairy’,and ‘lo-fat protein’.Fruit might make more sence to be on the side too as the 2nd Mickey Mouse ear as we rarely serve it on the dinner plate next to warm items.

  2. Posted July 10, 2011 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

    I like that idea…make fruit the other “ear!” I’m not a fan of the “low fat” label, however. Keep it whole, minimally processed and reduce the quantity if calories are a concern, but healthy fats are just that, healthy! And, if they’re unhealthy fats, then ideally they wouldn’t be on the pyramid or our plates anyway. Either way, if a plate, a pyramid or a rainbow of color can help you maintain balance and good health, then I say embrace the image that works and (of course) eat clean and live well!

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