Last week the USDA released it’s new food guide visual, My Plate, to much praise and enthusiasm. The overwhelming response from those in the health and fitness fields has been a resounding “it’s about time!” I have to agree.
The old food pyramid was confusing, and it encouraged the over consumption of refined carbohydrates. It was a great guide for how to fatten up livestock (feed them as much grain as possible!) but not a very effective tool for helping American mange their weight.
My Plate stresses the importance of eating produce: fruits and non starchy vegetables should account for half you plate. This is something I’ve been telling my clients for years. Lean proteins and whole grains or starchy vegetables should account for around a quarter of every meal.
The other trick to using MyPlate as a healthy eating guide is to examine the size of your plate. The average dinner plate in America is now 12 inches in diameter, compared to 10 inches in the 1970s. The larger your plate, the more food you’ll put on it, and the more you’ll eat! Just by switching out your enormous dinner plates for a more reasonably sized salad plate can cause to to eat 20-30% less food, no mental anguish or battle of will power required.
I don’t think that the USDA’s new visual aide will suddenly reverse the obesity problem in America, and it doesn’t address the more complicated questions of WHY people overeat, but I do think it’s a better starting point to talk about proper nutrition than the now thankfully defunct pyramid.