MyPlate vs. The USDA Food Pyramid: What You Need to Know

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In May 2011, the familiar USDA food pyramid was swapped for a new and updated version: a plate. While both provide insight on healthy eating, and have stayed relatively the same from one design to another, there are some noticeable changes. Here's what you need to know about the switch from MyPyramid to MyPlate.

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Why The Change?

When the plate was unveiled, Tom Vilsack, the Agriculture Secretary, referred to the old USDA pyramid as being "too complex to serve as a quick and easy guide for American families." The new look and feel of the plate was made to help people simplify the way they look at healthy eating. "It's part of a drastic change. The old plan was to provide information. The new plan is to actively change American eating behavior, using all the tools of modern persuasion," says Daniel J. DeNoon, of WebMD Health News.

What's Still There

If you loved the old USDA pyramid, you'll be happy to know that most items stayed in tact as they moved over to the plate, including:

Grains: In the pyramid format, grains took the largest spot at the base. In the new plate format, they represent close to a quarter of the nutritional recommendations. 

Vegetables: As the cornerstone of a healthy diet, it would be surprising to see the USDA yank this one from their recommendations. This food group now takes up more than a quarter of the plate, representing a larger importance in a healthy diet.

Fruit: Fruit used to share an equal space in the pyramid with vegetables, but it now has its own spot on the plate, with almost the same amount of importance as protein.

Protein: While two protein groups were moved into a singular protein section of the plate, the recommendations remain the same if you dig deeper at ChooseMyPlate.gov.

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What Went Missing

While the two diagrams still depict nearly the same exact information, there were two key things left off the plate:

Fats, oils and sweets: While these took the smallest spot on the old pyramid, they're non-existent in the new format.

Serving sizes: The old format suggested serving sizes and daily recommendations while the plate style uses a pie-graph format to suggest the importance of each food group, with no sign of the former suggestions.

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