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MyPlate Replaced The Food Pyramid

Updated on July 21, 2013

Michelle Obama Introduces MyPlate

What Happened To The Food Pyramid?

While I was sleeping, what we knew as the Food Pyramid was replaced by something called MyPlate. My Italian mother would have dropped to the floor in joy. Do you know how much food Italians pile on their plate?

Growing up in my family, I think we invented the word "Buffet." Picture plates piled high with food, that is the closest we got to a pyramid shape. But on the up side, it was nutritious food

Seriously though, the MyPlate theory is a bit clearer but being a stubborn Italian man, I don't like change. The evolution of this campaign is: First it was The Basic Seven, then The Basic Four, then The Food Pyramid and then MyPyramid. These are what I knew, what I understood (most of the time) and how my wife organized our nutritional needs in all the years we were married and were raising our family. She's gone now and my Food Pyramid has toppled over, so to speak.

Don't get me wrong - I eat, but not as responsibly and nutritiously as I should. Being alone now, the umph is just not there to prepare nutritious meals for myself. So when I go to the store, I read labels to make sure the cholesterol, sugar and salt content is not going to kill me, then I decide whether to go buy the product. It is how I've been getting along every day except Sundays, since my wife passed away in 2011. On Sundays, I go to one of my children's homes for dinner.

While I was in my fog after her death, the MyPlate campaign was introduced and I guess it was just way under my radar. Now that I'm coming back into the real world -- for me, it is like discovering new things, even though many Americans have known about them since their inception.

Food Pyramid Explained

MyPyramid Became MyPlate

USDA Introduces "MyPlate"

So Easy Even A Kid Can Understand It

The Food Pyramid was introduced in 1974 in Sweden, and as usual, the United States didn't jump on to the bandwagon until 1992 with their own version of the pyramid. With publications being world wide, our household of course knew about the Food Pyramid long before 1992. The fact that my wife was a doctor and had a background in nutrition meant there was no way the occupants of our house were not going to eat nutritiously.

We had junk food, but I guess you could say that we had nutritious junk food. Our sons are both raised now and have families of their own. Both sons are doctors and, go figure - they married health professionals, so you can just guess at the heat I've taking for two years for letting my eating and nutrition habits go downhill.

When I called one daughter-in-law the other day to ask if she used My Plate guidelines, I expected her to ask me what I was talking about. But of course, she didn't. She knew exactly what it was and said it is a much more user-friendly program and that even a kid can understand it. We talked about it for a few minutes, I asked about my grandchildren, and said I'd see her for Sunday dinner.

Then I got busy on You Tube and put the search engines into overload so I could read up on this to make sure my grandchildren don't quiz me and I end up being the only 'kid' that didn't understand it.

The more I read, the more I think this is a wonderful concept. Why the heck didn't they start out with this instead of the pyramid concept? The government was practically THERE when they introduced The Basic Seven.

Many things in life get complicated as you get older, but this is actually one thing that got simpler.

So I don't bore you with reading a lot of stuff you already know, check out the You Tube videos at the right and you can get the gist of recommended food categories from them.

In school 1950s, they didn't teach me the Food Pyramid - they taught The Basic Seven. There was nothing wrong with this concept and guess what?  It was ROUND just like MYPLATE!!  Basic Seven, introduced in 1911 & revised in 1946
In school 1950s, they didn't teach me the Food Pyramid - they taught The Basic Seven. There was nothing wrong with this concept and guess what? It was ROUND just like MYPLATE!! Basic Seven, introduced in 1911 & revised in 1946 | Source

The Basic Seven

In 1943, Americans started reading the words Recommended Daily Allowances or RDA regarding how many servings of each food was considered within healthy guidelines.

The US Department of Agriculture is the brains behind the "Basic Seven" creation and advertising campaign which I can remember from my elementary school days. Originally the Basic Seven had the names of the food groups and servings, but never told you how big a serving size was. In some households, a serving was "until you are full!"

Take a look at number 7 on the Basic Seven graphic at the right - one of the seven food groups is labelled "BUTTER!"

The Basic Four

In 1956, the USDA changed from the Basic Seven to the Basic Four. I looked around for a good graphic to show you, but I couldn't find one that I wouldn't get into trouble for using here on Hubpages.

So suffice it to say that the four basic food groups were fruits and vegetables, milk products, meat products, and breads and cereals. Examples of each of these food groups were given as well.

So what happened to the Basic Seven? Did they put us on a diet and whittle us down to Four Basics?

Well, yeah, they kind of did.

Malnutrition was heard about more often than obesity when I was growing up in the 1950s and 1960s. So the government's idea was to emphasize if you couldn't get the Basic Seven, at least get the Basic Four. The other three in the "basics" were what you might say "elective" - nice to have on hand to eat, but not necessary to eat everyday.

The Basic Four campaign had a good run from 1956 and was replaced by the Food Pyramid Guide in 1992.

Revisions To The 2005 Food Pyramid


When The Food Pyramid was changed to MyPyramid in 2005, serving sizes (in addition to the number of servings) were introduced into the graphics. Up until then, we only saw number of servings which left it wide open for interpretation by many people.

In our home, my wife told us we should always follow this suggestion for serving size - if it was bigger than your fist, you were eating too much of it. She was a gal way ahead of her time. The fist is the serving size you hear a lot on television and in print ads.

This Is The Official White House You Tube Video Advertisement For MyPlate


I really like the simpler streamlined version for nutritional guidelines which we have today with MyPlate.

It's so easy, even a kid can understand it.

So, what's on your plate?

Happy and Healthy Eating To You!

© John De Vettese June 2013


Submit a Comment

  • here-s johnny profile imageAUTHOR


    5 years ago from Philadelphia, PA

    Nancy Owens, yes, it is so much easier in 4 portions than the way it was drummed into us as kids in school. I'm pretty new here at hubpages and just getting the hang of things. I thank you for your comment and the share. I appreciate it very much.


  • Nancy Owens profile image

    Nancy Owens 

    5 years ago from USA

    The MyPlate does seem better, doesn't it. Almost like taking a step back in time and realizing the healthy eating guidelines don't have to be highly technical. It is so much easier to think of it in terms of 4 equal portions and a glass of milk. Voted up and shared!

  • here-s johnny profile imageAUTHOR


    5 years ago from Philadelphia, PA

    MySwanSong, thank you Marjorie for your comment and votes. I've got a lot of interests, so my hubs should be pretty varied in content. TYVM for being my first commenter on my first few hubs. :)

  • MySwanSong profile image


    5 years ago

    Hi John, This is an excellent hub. I'm sorry for the loss of your wife but I'm glad your sons and their wives are looking out for your diet for at least one day a week. I hope you get to take home some leftovers. lol Your wit made me laugh and the history of the Food Pyramid is interesting. I didn't remember the Basic Seven, although I am probably as old as you are. Voted interesting, funny, and useful. Good work, John.


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