Happy Birthday, MyPlate

Ag Page week of June 21, 2021
Pamela Pruett, EdD
[email protected]

Ten years ago, USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) updated the Federal nutrition symbol to become MyPlate, a simple graphic that serves as a general healthy eating guide on what and how much to eat from each of the five food groups – fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, and dairy or fortified soy alternatives.

Bite by bite, the benefits of healthy eating add up over time and small changes matter. Start simple with MyPlate and plan your healthy eating routine from the MyPlate food groups.

It’s important to eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, and dairy and fortified soy alternatives. When deciding what to eat or drink, choose options that are full of nutrients. Make every bite count.

Here are some tips for making every bite count from

  • Learn how much you need from each food group. Get a personalized MyPlate Plan that’s right for you, based on your age, sex, height, weight, and physical activity level.
  • Look at your current eating routine. Pick one or two ways that you can switch to a more nutritious food choice.
  • A healthy eating routine can help boost your health today and, in the years, to come. Think about how your food choices come together over the course of your day or week to help you create a healthy eating routine.
  • Choose foods for meals, beverages, and snacks that have limited added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium.

An example of a MyPlate eating plan for those age 14+ for 2,000 calories includes the following:

  • Fruits: 2 cups. 1 cup from the Fruit Group counts as:
    – 1 cup raw, frozen, or cooked/canned fruit; or
    – ½ cup dried fruit; or
    – 1 cup 100% fruit juice
  • Vegetables: 2-1/2 cups. 1 cup from the Vegetable Group counts as:
    – 1 cup raw or cooked/canned vegetables; or
    – 2 cups leafy salad greens; or
    – 1 cup 100% vegetable juice
  • Grains: 6 ounces. 1 ounce from the Grains Group counts as:
    – 1 slice bread; or
    – 1 ounce ready-to-eat cereal; or
    – ½ cup cooked rice, pasta, or cereal
  • Protein: 5½ ounces. 1 ounce from the Protein Foods Group counts as:
    – 1 ounce seafood, lean meat, or poultry; or
    – 1 egg; or
    – 1 Tbsp peanut butter; or
    – ¼ cup cooked beans, peas, or lentils; or
  • Dairy: 3 cups. 1 cup from the Dairy Group counts as:
    – 1 cup dairy milk or yogurt; or
    – 1 cup lactose-free dairy milk or yogurt; or
    – 1 cup fortified soy milk or yogurt; or
    – 1½ ounces hard cheese

Join in the birthday fun with 10 Ways to Celebrate MyPlate:

Focus on whole fruits

Include fruit at breakfast! Top whole-grain cereal with your favorite fruit, add berries to pancakes, or mix dried fruit into hot oatmeal.

Vary your veggies

Cook a variety of colorful veggies. Make extra vegetables and save some for later. Use them for a stew, soup, or a pasta dish.

Vary your protein routine

Next taco night, try adding a new protein, like shrimp, beans, chicken, or beef.

Make half your grains whole grains

Add brown rice to your stir-fry dishes. Combine your favorite veggies and protein foods for a nutritious meal.

Move to low-fat or fat-free milk or yogurt

Enjoy a low-fat yogurt parfait for breakfast. Top with fruit and nuts to get in two more food groups.

Drink and eat less sodium, saturated fat, and added sugars

Cook at home and read the ingredients to compare foods.

Healthy eating is important at every stage of life, and MyPlate can be adaptable for everyone. Whatever your stage of life, it is never too early or too late to eat healthy.

Dr. Pamela Pruett is a County Extension Agent – Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) with the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service in Mississippi County. She can be reached by email: [email protected] Follow her on facebook @UAEXMISSCOFCS and on twitter @misscofcs.

Back to top button