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June 8, 2011

From Pyramids to Plates: Government Changes Healthy Eating Icon for First Time in 29 Years

choose_my_plate.jpgEarlier this month, First lady Michelle Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack unveiled the federal government’s new food icon, MyPlate. MyPlate replaces MyPyramid, which began as the Food Guide Pyramid back in 1992.

MyPlate puts emphasis on fruits and veggies, along with protein, grains and dairy.

In the USDA’s press release announcing the new icon, Michelle Obama says, “This is a quick, simple reminder for all of us to be more mindful of the foods that we’re eating and as a mom, I can already tell how much this is going to help parents across the country.”

You just have to see the icon once to commit the image to memory: Half of your plate should be filled with fruits and vegetables; almost one quarter is then filled with lean protein and the other quarter with healthy grains. Easy as pie–well, so to speak!

Have you already started to fill your dinner plate using the new icon as a guide? If so, the USDA encourages you to share pictures of your plate on Twitter and Flickr. They’ve created a special hashtag and photo group dedicated to MyPlate.

Reaction across the Internet has been mixed: Some think MyPlate doesn’t go far enough to promote healthy eating. Others think it’s a great step from the pyramid, which many found confusing. What do you think? Is the new icon changing your healthy eating habits?



About the Author

Summer Huggins
Summer Huggins is an amateur photographer, dog-lover, cupcake-eater and shoe-shopper in Austin, Texas. She loves to travel, cook and take in a good movie, and she volunteers with a local pet-rescue organization as a photographer and dog-walker.




  • Anonymous

    I agree that this icon is much easier to understand and remember than the pyramid. But I also feel like the government overestimates how much attention the average person pays to these food icons. This article is the first time I’ve thought about the food icon in ages, and I shudder to think how much time and money were spent on these revisions. I appreciate the effort to simplify things but personally don’t think it matters to the average Joe whether its a pyramid or a plate.

  • http://twitter.com/SummerH Summer Huggins

    You may be right: Our fast and convenient lifestyles make it possible to eat without thinking about it at all. If we’re not thinking at all, an icon won’t change the way we think.

    This icon is already commited to memory for me, whereas I never did so for the pyramid. We’ll see if I can actually translate the icon to my dinner plate. :-)

  • http://twitter.com/SummerH Summer Huggins

    You may be right: Our fast and convenient lifestyles make it incredibly easy for us to eat without ever thinking about it at all. If we’re not thinking about something, an icon isn’t going to change that thinking.

    I’ve already committed the new icon to memory and I did came close to doing that with the pyramid. Now we’ll have to see if I can translate it to my dinner plates. :-)