Forget the food pyramid; the new model for healthy eating comes in a plate. The “Healthy Plate,” released today, is the new icon of the updated U.S. Dietary Guidelines.
Meant to encourage Americans to improve their diets, the plate is divided into four sections: red for fruits, green for vegetables, orange for grains, and purple for protein, with a separate blue section for dairy on the side. The icon makes it clear that half of every meal should consist of fruit and vegetables, while protein makes up the smallest part of the plate.
The new guidelines also suggest that families make at least half of their grains whole grains, though many nutritionists argue that all grains should be whole. Other guidelines suggest that people eat smaller portions, fewer refined foods, and choose water instead of sugary drinks.
The old pyramid model for health eating was just too complex for most families to grasp, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. The new icon won’t just give families information they need about how to eat healthfully, but will also actively change the way Americans eat, he hopes.
“We eat on plates, not pyramids,” says Bonnie Taub-Dix, a registered dietitian in New York City and a nutrition blogger for food.usatoday.com. “This is a graphic that everyone can relate to and visualize.”
Federal law requires the USDA and the Department of Health and Human Services to update the guidelines every five years.