Responding the nation’s obesity epidemic, the USDA recently did away with the food pyramid—our nation’s guide to healthy eating—replacing it with a MyPlate, a plate divided into four main food groups: fruits, vegetables, grains and protein. Represented as a cup to the side is dairy.
The new food icon demonstrates the proper ratios in which foods should be eaten rather than emphasize daily servings and sizes, as its predecessor did.
Will this new symbol encourage healthier eating for the two-thirds of American adults and one-third of children who are currently overweight or obese? Is the plumping of America a question of balanced choices or are we all just overloading our plates?
In high school, while I was touring colleges, my father and I stopped at a roadside diner offering the staple of American dining—the all-you-can-eat buffet. As we walked down the line, I filled up my plate, ecstatic by variety of food and overwhelmed by the many choices. My father took one glance of my plate and said, Dear, you overloaded your plate. Can’t you make a decision?
For me, it wasn’t a question of making the right choice. It was question of making a choice (and still is). With so many available food groups prepared in so many ways—fried, steamed, grilled, baked—and offered with so many condiments—syrups, butters, jams, creams—no wonder that those of us who are chronically indecisive overload our plates by weighing too many options.
I’ve read the nutrition books, I know all about right choices and proper ratios. For me, it’s about narrowing the options available in our home and at work. Having healthier options readily available increases the likelihood that I won’t overfill. (Note to self: avoid cruises).
If I had my very own food diagram it would read: keep it simple. What would your food diagram look like?