Healthy Children - November 2011


Step Up to the New MyPlate!

By Samia Hamdan, MPH, RD, Nutritionist, FNS Midwest Region

Mealtime is an enjoyable time for all of us. USDA’s new MyPlate food icon, released on June 2, was designed as a familiar placemat reminding Americans to eat healthfully. Half of the plate is filled with fruits and vegetables. The other half is made up of grains and protein, with a side of low-fat or skim dairy product.

The MyPlate icon is based on the recommendations of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and is part of a national campaign to encourage healthy food choices. The “My” in “MyPlate” reminds us of the importance of a personalized approach to healthy eating.

The selected messages for all Americans are:

  • Enjoy your food, but eat less.
  • Avoid oversized portions.
  • Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
  • Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.
  • Make at least half your grains whole grains.
  • Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals—and choose foods with lower numbers.
  • Drink water instead of sugary drinks.


Many great resources are available on the website. Here are a few to check out:

  • 10 Tips Nutrition Education
  • Series
  • Kid-friendly Veggies and Fruits
  • Be a Healthy Role Model for Children
  • With Protein Foods, Variety is Key.


The new 2010 Dietary Guidelines Consumer Brochure, Let’s Eat to the Health of It, provides practical ways to make healthy choices under themes such as “balancing calories,” “foods to increase” and “foods to reduce.” A description of each of the food groups featured on the MyPlate is also available on the website.


Can MyPyramid and MyPlate be used together?

Yes! Many of the messages about what to eat and how much to eat have not changed. One new feature to note is the “protein” group, which replaced the “meat and beans” group. This new name encourages a variety of proteins, including plant- based proteins. The orange vegetable group has been expanded to include red vegetables rich in Vitamin A.

If you have found MyPyramid posters, guidance materials and other tools useful in nutrition education, continue to use them until FNS revises its nutrition education resources to reflect the new MyPlate.


Do green bell peppers fall under the dark green vegetable food group?
No. Although they are green, they are not part of the Vitamin A-rich dark green vegetable group.

Visit to learn more and to find more new resources coming this fall!