The Healthy Eating Plate and What it Means for Your Diet.
I don’t know about you but I grew up on the Food Guide Pyramid. I never really understood it or its importance but it was mandatory that we learnt about it in school. And if I tell you, it was in almost every Science book I ever owned. I guess it was that important!
Well, that’s not what this post is about. Not entirely, anyway.
If you think of it, the Healthy Eating Plate is really a result of many updates and modifications made to other forms of food measurement and eating tactics.
And it all started with the Food Guide Pyramid.
The Food Guide Pyramid was formulated by the USDA in 1992 and it basically represented, through a pyramid, the recommended kinds and amounts of foods that we should eat daily. It sought to ensure that we got the right amounts of food from the five major food groups at the time.
The way in which it did this was through the differing levels of the pyramid- the bottom and biggest section of the pyramid being proportionate to the amount of carbohydrates needed in our daily diets, calculated in terms of servings; the top and smallest section of the pyramid being proportionate to the amount of fats needed; and each level in between being proportionate to the amounts needed of the other food groups.
However, there were major shortcomings to the approach of the Food Guide Pyramid by the USDA, as stated by the the Harvard School of Public Health. Information provided by pyramid was not based on solid scientific evidence, and regular updates of the information were not carried out. Also, estimations of serving sizes, especially for users of the guidelines of the pyramid, were challenging.
The Food Guide Pyramid was replaced by MyPyramid in 2005. This too was met with criticism and was accused of being too ambiguous and complex and was thus replaced with a simpler MyPlate in 2011.
So, you may be wondering what is the difference between MyPlate and the Healthy Eating Plate?
Well, for starters, MyPLate was formulated by the USDA and as we said, as a replacement for MyPyramid. On the other hand, the Healthy Eating Plate was formulated by the Harvard School of Public Health as a modification of MyPlate. It succeeded in and improved the areas where MyPlate failed.
The Healthy Eating Plate adopts a simple yet detailed approach to guiding us as to the foods we should eat and how we should eat it.
It uses the representation of a plate to put into perspective the proportions of whole grains, vegetables, healthy proteins and fruits, healthy oils and water that are needed as part of a healthy diet. What is even more is that it tells us the types of each.
Copyright © 2011, Harvard University. For more information about The Healthy Eating Plate, please see The Nutrition Source, Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, www.thenutritionsource.org, and Harvard Health Publications, www.health.harvard.edu.
- Vegetables and fruits should constitute half of your plate. However, as shown by the Healthy Eating Plate, more vegetables should be eaten than fruits. A variety of vegetables and fruits should make up this portion of the plate, with an emphasis on an array of colours.
- Whole grains should make up one-quarter of your plate. The emphasis here is on whole grains, rather than refined grains.
- A variety of proteins should make up one-quarter of your plate. This does not only include protein from animals such as chicken or fish but also proteins from plants such as nuts and beans. Ensure that there is a variety and as much as possible, avoid red meats and processed meats.
- Healthy oils should be eaten in moderation. Olive, canola and peanut oils, among others, are fine. However, avoid hydrogenated oils such as margarine and butter and trans fat.
- Drink water, coffee and tea. Sugary drinks should be avoided; milk and dairy products should be limited, as well as juices, which should be limited to 1 small glass per day.
This approach mainly targets the quality of your diet.
What does the Healthy Eating Plate mean for your diet? I’ll tell you what it means for mine.
For me, it means a much simpler way of organising and keeping track of what I put on my plate and what I eat. It means not focusing too much on counting calories…instead, focusing on the right kinds and amounts of food. All in all, it basically means less stress.
However, in a way it also means more discipline. For me, at least. For some reason, simpler always makes things harder for me. Knowing that I can put whatever I want on my plate as long as it is within the proportions stipulated (which is not true…the kind of food is also important) may throw me off if I do not remain strict.
But that’s just me. I am so sure you see the merits of the Healthy Eating Plate and what it can do for your eating and diet habits.
Leave me some comments on your thoughts of the Healthy Eating Plate and what effect you think it would have on your diet!
Be sure to get your plate here!