MyPlate replaces food pyramid

August 12, 2011 By May Harter, M.S., R.D., CD/N & Kaylan McDowell-Smith, dietitian

The U.S. Dietary Guidelines' food pyramid icon has been replaced with the more simplified MyPlate. The plate, revealed in early June, provides nutritional advice for Americans based on the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. MyPlate is split into four different sections with half the plate consisting of fruits and vegetables and two smaller subsections for protein and grains. Dairy, not to be forgotten, is included on the side of the plate. This new icon encourages Americans to eat a more plant-based diet. Compared to the pyramid, MyPlate simplifies nutritional information, with a greater focus on creating a more balanced and nutritious meal. It is something for Americans to strive to incorporate and follow in their daily lives.

The new plate incorporates these dietary messages from the Guidelines:
- Enjoy your food, but eat less.
- Avoid oversized portions.
- Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
- Switch to fat-free or 1 percent milk.
- Make at least half your grains whole grains.
- Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals-and choose foods with lower numbers.
- Drink water instead of sugary drinks.

Here are some tips to building a healthier plate:
- Add red, orange, and dark-green vegetables to your plate, like tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and broccoli.
- To boost your vegetable intake, make a salad. Add a variety of colorful vegetables to the mix such as peppers, carrots, radishes, beets, or onions. Apples, grapes, mandarin oranges or strawberries can also make a nice addition to any salad!
- To increase intake of whole grains, try brown rice, whole grain pasta, or whole wheat breads.
- Stick with lean cuts of meat, like fish, turkey, pork loin or grilled chicken.
- Try fat-free or low-fat yogurts, being mindful of some yogurts' high sugar content.

Visit for more tips and information regarding MyPlate.

May Harter is a registered dietitian in Weight Management/Bariatrics at The Hospital of Central Connecticut (HOCC); Kaylan McDowell-Smith is a former dietetic intern at HOCC. For information about nutrition counseling with an HOCC registered dietitian, please call 866.668.5070.