Food Guide An Improvement, But Needs Tweaking

By Kelly Roehl

Nutrition recommendations are forever changing, leaving consumers confused about what it really means to “eat healthy.”

The U.S. government began issuing food guides in the early 1900s and they have varied in appearance, from a wheel to a pyramid. In 2005, the well-known food guide pyramid, composed of stacked boxes, was replaced by the colorful MyPyramid, composed of vertical lines, varying in size and shape. This revised pyramid was complicated, and many consumers found it difficult to translate the message of moderation, variety and proportion into their hectic lifestyles. To add to the confusion, many health and nutrition groups have created their own healthy eating guides to promote a healthier America.

Enter ChooseMyPlate, the most recent food guide from the USDA. This new, simplified icon colorfully illustrates the five food groups (fruits, vegetables, grains, protein and dairy) using a familiar mealtime cue — a place setting. The website (www.ChooseMyPlate.gov) expands on the obvious visual message to make half of your plate fruits and vegetables with bold statements, such as “Enjoy your food, but eat less,” “Avoid oversized portions” and “Drink water instead of sugary drinks.” It offers many nutrition and exercise tips and a never-ending array of links to help incorporate more produce, whole grains and lean protein into the diet, as well as interactive tools that provide specialized food plans, aide in meal planning, calorie tracking and weight loss. Continue reading