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MyPlate: Controversies in Replacing the USDA Food Pyramid

Updated on May 7, 2018
Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty has advanced degrees in preventive medicine and health psychology, with 35 years of work in allergy and other autoimmune treatment.

The Food Pie Chart: MyPlate or The Plate

NOTE: Dairy products are really not on the plate at all - they stand off to the side. This raises questions.
NOTE: Dairy products are really not on the plate at all - they stand off to the side. This raises questions. | Source

The Pyramid Comes Down

Does anyone remember the Four Food Groups from the last century? Some Americans continue to use this nutrition scheme, because they feel it is less restrictive and more easy to follow than the Food Pyramid. However, even the pyramid has been replaced, this time with a plate.

The plate diagram of the USDA was unveiled on June 2, 2011 by First Lady Michelle Obama All types of groups and bloggers guessed what it wold include and how full or how empty it might be. Americans worried that the plate would be too restrictive to their diets. Food manufacturers and farmer worried that the plate would reduce their incomes.

What we learned in the end is it would be called MyPlate and be half filled with fruits and vegetables, and half with everything else: less of all the rest, and very little sugar, salt, and fats. Some communities were upset that elected leaders initiated a soda tax to limit their spending on their favorite sugary drinks. some communities even eliminated the ability to sell large drinks over 16 ounces in fast food and convenience stores. People became angry.

A Healthier Alternative

This new plate nutrition chart is healthier overall than the Food Pyramid, because the pyramid's formulaic proportions are, as revealed to me by cattle ranchers in 1992, used as a nutritional scheme to fatten up beef cattle for sale at market. This has been accomplished for many decades.

The cattle fattening framework is not called a "food pyramid for cattle", but the proportions of foods are the same as on nutritional pyramids invented via Healthy People 2000 from 1989 - 2000 and published in 1992 for humans. This included a overabundance of starches and bread, which likely increased the sales of both in America. MyPlate has likely reduced the sales of white bread and sugar.

MyPlate is an addition to Mrs. Obama's Let's Move campaign for combating US youth obesity, an ever growing health problem.

More Fruit and Vegetables

Not everyone is accustomed to consuming fruits and vegetables several times a week, let alone upping that low rate to 50% of daily food intake. This is a continuing problem as natural disasters destroy some fruit and vegetable crops very year, raising prices at the grocery store.

In addition, some communities have no access to fresh produce, including isolated rural areas and even some urban areas. All of these are known as "food deserts."

Food Schemes 1900 to 2020

Backgrounds available in green, blue, yellow, magenta and black & white.
Backgrounds available in green, blue, yellow, magenta and black & white. | Source

MyPlate and Six Guidelines, 2009 - Present

  1. "Enjoy your food, but eat less." Actually, MyPlate urges us to add additional fruits and vegetables up to a total of 50% of all food intake daily.
  2. "Avoid over-sized portions." This may mean measuring food portions, which can be time consuming, embarrassing, and seen as punishment. However, 4 oz. of meat as a serving may well seem punishment to those who eat 7 oz. steaks.
  3. "Make half of your plate fruits and vegetables." - For those of use that enjoy fruits and vegetables, this is a treat. But not if they continue to become more expensive!
  4. Change milk-drinking from whole or 2% to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk. Not everyone can do this, and 2% is as low as I can go for drinking. I can cook with lower-fat milk and notice no change in flavor, though.
  5. Read labels and compare the sodium content in canned vegetables (buy no-sodium added at the same price), canned and dried soups, breads, frozen meals, prepared foods on the selves, fast food, and others. Choose the lower numbers. For instance, ALDI canned soups are cheap, have a lot of sodium, and don't taste very good. Campbells' is really becoming expensive, though. I pick up the store brands on sale or make my own.
  6. "Drink water instead of sugary drinks." Many doctors often tell us that herbal or caffeine-free teas are just as good as water. Fruit-infused water is another option, but can be expensive. Lemon water can be made at home with lemon juice and water, a less expensive option.

If American families can progress from eating no fruits and vegetables at all to including at last some of these healthier foods, then that change can lead to an improvement in health for their families.

Such a change will help to lower the American obesity rates of children and youth, and certainly will help the unfortunate children kids that are habitually overfed by adults.

Returning to a problem point, who will help American families afford the increasing prices of fruits and vegetables? Some can grow their own, but not everyone is able to do so. Many food banks offer fresh produce donated by local farmers, but how long will this last on any particular day? -- Some people need the produce and have no access to it.

Food Pyramids: 1992 to 2009

Historic Basic Four Food Groups: 1956 - 1992

  1. Red meat, poultry, pork, fish, dry beans and peas, eggs, nuts, legumes
  2. Dairy products: milk, cheese, butter, yogurt
  3. Grains, including cereals and breads
  4. Fruits and vegetables

Basic Seven Food Groups: 1911 through WWII (1945)



  • Healthy Eating Politics. The Power of Healthy Eating: "Let Food Be Your Medicine" Retrieved May 6, 2018.
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 8th ed. December 2015.


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