Healthy Living on June 10, 2011 by

The Plate Debate: USDA’s MyPlate

The USDA released their new version of the Food Guide Pyramid, My Plate, last week, to reactions that varied from standing ovation to outrage. Initially, I was really excited about changing the way we looked at the food guidelines. A plate with portions for each food group to give a proportional view of how they should balance each other looked great! However, after a lot of feedback from you, I started to see what made this version less-than-desirable.

First, all of the portions look almost identical. Second, it does not give serving size suggestions and I couldn’t find that anywhere. So I’m left wondering, what size is this plate? Does this plate represent all the food I eat or just one meal? These questions make a difference- what if I want to eat a 10 oz steak? Does that mean I need to eat 12 oz of grains, 14 oz of vegetables and 8 oz of fruit at the same time? The only guidance they give us is to enjoy your food, but eat less and avoid oversized portions. If there is one thing that we don’t have a grasp on in the United States it’s portion control. It’s easy to tell us to avoid oversized portions, but that really does you no good if you don’t know what a proper portion should be.

While I do feel that we have responsibility as individuals to know what a portion should be and make the right choices about what we should eat versus what we should not, I think this plate simply fosters more confusion in an already muddled situation.  Many of our Facebook friends voiced that parents should be educated enough to make the right choices about food for their children. I applaud those of you who feel sure enough in your own food education to stand alone without any guidance from the USDA. I would imagine, though, that our customers are a group of people who do have a better understanding of good nutrition than the average person. There are many Americans who do not know and do not understand proper portion control and this plate does nothing to help.

I think we’ll be hearing more from the USDA about MyPlate and start seeing portion size suggestions in the not too distant future. Until then, we would love to hear what you think, too.

P.S. It really bothers me that the grains category doesn’t mention whole grains on the plate. You have to dig around to find any mention of whole grains and that is a step backwards, in my opinion.


I agree, it’s confusing!I think illustrated plates of healthy meals with proper portion sizes would be a great teaching tool. Including ones for different ways of eating- omnivore, vegetarian, vegan, paleolithic, etc.

Well said, Cassidy! This cute little plate really doesn’t say much, does it? If they’re not going to crowd the logo with info, they should have more information at It is important to know how many grams of protein are recommended, for example. About the grains, I think the website simply suggested making half your grain intake whole grains. Looks like they unveiled MyPlate before it was ready!

Nancy Guppy says:

Hi Bob’s Red Mill. I agree about the grains. I think it should say Milk and Alternatives but I guess that won’t fit… For a supper plate I think it should be half vegetables and a fruit off to the side as a dessert or a snack. If potato is used as a veg it wouldn’t suggest much room left for colours of the rainbow vegetables? I guess I will have to go read the background information. Thanks for posting. I am Canadian so I hadn’t looked at it yet.

Chris says:

I think that they should have gone with the “Power Plate” ( all the way, instead of adopting a modified version.

“Dairy” has no business being up there, and all whole foods contain protein (and enough not to have to worry about it) so that th “protein” category is somewhat misleading and redundant.

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