MyPlate: The Basics

MyPlate is the "new" version of the Food Pyramid you might remember from the mid 2000s. It is a nutrition tool developed by the US Department of Agriculture on what a balanced diet for Americans looks like and is in accordance with the health initiatives "Healthy People 2020."

MyPlate is broken down into 5 food groups: Vegetables, Fruit, Protein, Grains and Dairy. There isn't much info on the plate itself because it leaves the decision up to you. Your plate: your life.


Vegetables combined with fruit should take up about half of your plate. In general, 1 cup of raw or cooked vegetables or vegetable juice, or 2 cups of raw leafy greens can be considered as 1 serving from the Vegetable group. AIm for at least three servings of veggies each day (five would be awesome!). Vegetables are an excellent source of all sorts of vitamins and minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals (the stuff that gives them their color-- more research to come). Because they are complex carbohydrates, our bodies can use the sustained energy from them from a longer period of time (around 4 hours or until the next meal). They're low in calories too, making them the best to start with filling up your plate.


Fruits make the In general, 1 cup of fruit or 100% fruit juice, or ½ cup of dried fruit can be considered as 1 serving from the Fruit Group. Aim for at least 2 servings of fruit per day. Like vegetables, fruits are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and solube fiber. Fruits contain more simple carbohydrates than vegetables-- this makes them awesome for a quick burst of energy.


Protein sources include animal sources such as meat, poultry, eggs fish, and shellfish. Plants have protein too: beans, nuts, seeds, soy, and peas. When choosing protein foods, go lean.

One ounce of meat, poultry or fish, ¼ cup cooked beans, 1 egg, 1 tablespoon of peanut butter, or ½ ounce of nuts or seeds can be considered as 1 serving equivalent from the Protein Foods Group. Aim for approximately 3-4 servings of 1 oz protein portions per day.


Grains include any food made from wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley or another cereal grains. They're divided into 2 subgroups, "whole grains" and "refined grains." Choose whole grains like whole-wheat flour, bulgur (cracked wheat), oatmeal, whole cornmeal, and brown rice first. They contain more fiber, potassium iron, many B vitamins, and phosphrous than their refined counter parts. Refined grains have a finer texture and improve their shelf life, but it also removes dietary fiber, iron, and many B vitamins. Some examples of refined grain One slice of bread, 1 cup of ready-to-eat cereal, or ½ cup of cooked rice, cooked pasta, or cooked cereal can be considered as 1serving from the Grains Group. Aim for around 6 servings of grains each day and make at least half of them whole!


Diary foods contain calcium, phosphorous, and vitamin D. Dairy foods also contain a unique blend of carbohydrates and protein and make an awesome mid-day snack or pairing to any meal. All fluid milk products and many foods made from milk plus calcium-fotified soy-milk are considered part of this food group. Choose either fat-free or low-fat (1%) dairy products. Foods made from milk that have little to no calcium, such as cream cheese, cream, and butter are not part of this group-- they're considered fats.

In general, 1 cup of milk, yogurt, or soymilk, 1 ½ ounces of natural cheese, or 2 ounces of processed cheese can be considered as 1 serving from the Dairy Group. Aim for three servings a day.

What do I think is missing?

Fats & Oils, Water, and Exercise!

Fats & Oils

Choose fats that are liquid at room temperature, also known as unsaturated fats. Fats also occur naturally in the foods we already eat, so you don't need to add too much extra.


Water exists in most foods, but of course the best source of water is water itself. Aim for 8 glasses a day to keep hydrated and your body functioning well!


Physical exercise is an important component for a healthy lifestyle. Aim for 30 minutes a day at least 5 days a week.

To check out more info on the original MyPlate check out USDA's site!

#MyPlate #nutrition

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