I have always questioned the motivation behind the USDA food recommendations. You gotta wonder about any entity who’s job it is to sell food and at the same time tell us what is best for us to eat. It just seems there is a conflict of interest there.
Remember the “Food Pyramid” that we all learned about in grade school? Well, that is the USDA at work! They update the food recommendations every 5 years and it’s made quite a few evolutions in recent years. So much so that it wasn’t really like a pyramid at all. In fact, the newest version is now called MyPlate.
This is actually good news. (If we can just get the old food pyramid out of our heads!) I spent a lot of time marking up the old My Food Pyramid for my clients. Now with the new MyPlate there is a lot less marking I will have to do!
The new design is much more visual and user friendly. Even their little summary is much more straight forward:
|●||Enjoy your food, but eat less.|
|●||Avoid over-sized portions.|
|Foods to Increase|
|●||Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.|
|●||Make at least half your grains whole grains.|
|●||Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.|
|Foods to Reduce|
|●||Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals ― and choose the foods with lower numbers.|
|●||Drink water instead of sugary drinks.|
Here’s my take on their recommendations:
Balancing Calories – I think is good – basically portion control. Yep, think that will definitely help!
Foods to Increase – I am a huge fan of fruits and veggies! I would have loved for them to be a little more specific regarding the fruit to veggie ratio. I like a 1 fruit to 5 vegetable ratio and my personal diet consists more of a 1 fruit to 10 veggie ratio. Make at least half your grains whole grains? Hmm, would have loved to see them push the envelope here a little more, not much good comes from consuming refined grains!
Dairy, dairy, dairy (Marsha, Marsha, Marsha – any Brady Bunch fans out there or did I just date myself?)! The USDA loves their dairy farmers. Did you know you can get calcium from other foods, even plants? What a concept! Elephants have big strong bones and I have never seen a elephant with one of those milk mustaches. How do they do it?
Foods to Reduce – reduce sodium, good call! American Heart Association says less than 1,500 mg per day. The killer here is restaurants and prepared foods. Typically you will see 500-1,000 mg of sodium per meal easily and that is trying to be good. (Try a soup and then see what happens!) Drink water instead of sugary drinks!!! I am speechless!!! Awesome!!!
Overall this is way better! The one thing I love with this new MyPlate image is, you see no mention of the extras – cookies, candy, cupcakes, and so on. It’s focus is on real whole foods which is a good message.
The interesting thing when you drill down to the details, specifically the protein section you will see this:
Go lean on protein
- Choose low-fat or lean meats and poultry.
- Bake it, broil it, or grill it.
- Vary your choices — with more fish, beans, peas, nuts, and seeds
What they are saying here (which they had before) is that the protein group is NOT the meat group. It includes meat, but it also includes, beans, peas, nuts and seeds. Also they state to vary your protein choices so it is not all coming from the meat. To make things even more interesting, they added new verbiage to the protein page that specifically mentioned vegetarian options to fish. This line was not one on the last version of the protein group page. Hmm, are they going veggie on us here? Maybe not, but they sure are leaning away from the old red meat days!
Overall, I like it. I think it will make it easier for people and is a great start to helping people eat better.