MyPlate: A healthy diet in a glance

MyPlateYou may have noticed that the federal government launched a new food icon called MyPlate last week. The diagram is as part of a new, evidence-based initiative to improve the diets of Americans that we’ve written about before here on EBL.

The plate is a graphic representation of new dietary guidelines based on an extensive review by 13 nationally-recognized experts in nutrition and health.  While that sounds good, we wondered what the nutrition experts at Cornell think about the new icon.

Senior extension associate, Jennifer Wilkins, Ph.D., R.D., is the community coordinator for Cornell’s Dietetic Internship Program and director of Cornell’s Farm to School Research and Outreach program. On the whole, she’s a fan of the MyPlate graphic.

For one, the plate does a better job of conveying proportionality, she says.  “Advice to ‘make half of your plate fruits and vegetables’ couldn’t be clearer,” Wilkins said. And there’s clear evidence that taking this step alone will lead to a healthier diet.

The guidelines issued along with the plate – such as avoid oversized portions and sugary drinks – are simply worded and convey important steps to take to improving Americans diets.

But there is one aspect missing from the new icon, Wilkins said.

“The important reality is that food quality varies dramatically within each group,” she said. “ It really does matter how much of the grains are whole grains. It matters how, and to what extent fruits and vegetables, and grains are processed. And it matters if chicken is a breast or McNuggetized.”

The bottom line: MyPlate is a step in the right direction, but Americans should make sure they gather even more evidence about a healthy diet.

You can read more of Wilkins’ ideas about MyPlate and healthy eating in her column published in the Albany Times-Union.


  1. Diana says:

    I stopped eating sugar for a year. The longer I went on eating without added sugar, the better and more energetic I felt.

    Now that my year of no sugar is over, I’ll occasionally indulge, but the way I eat it is very different.

    I encourage others to try this at least for 1 month. Your life will significantly improve.

  2. Jean Taylor says:

    Give me a month of menus and a shopping list please!

  3. The plate seems to be an oversimplification of dietary needs. It does provide some good benefits, though and is a step in the right direction.

  4. William says:

    Even the education of registered dietitians is sponsored and taught by the junk food industry – what a surprise that more people NEED to know. Hasn’t anyone noticed that these “nutrition” experts are, mostly, VERY overweight?

  5. It seems a balance portion of everything in the food chain is better for our diet, This is what i have been following all this while. Modertae portions of everything…


  6. The new food icon is about 1,000 times better than the old food pyramid. For one thing the old food pyramid to work you needed to understand serving size which can easily have different meanings for folks. Plus no one eats on a pyramid – where as everyone can relate to a plate. In fact one of the tricks I’ve used to control my portion sizes is to use smaller plates. It’s a simple solution to eating less. I agree with Jennifer Wilkins conclusion that the new MyPlate icon and recommendations are a step in the right direction although missing some additional information about eating healthy.

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