After decades of using the food pyramid, in 2011 the USDA introduced a new model for healthy eating called MyPlate. With its new icon, MyPlate reminds us how to eat better by showing a balanced plate that divides the four food groups into equally sized sections: Fruits, Vegetables, Grains, and Protein.

This is a big change from the food pyramid that made grains the largest food group by placing it at the bottom of the pyramid. As a result, the food pyramid overemphasized grains with 6-11 daily servings and gave less importance to vegetables and fruits with only 5-9 servings from these two food groups.

The MyPlate icon makes it easier for us to eat healthy since now every food group has an equal portion on our plate. According to our former First Lady Michelle Obama “When mom or dad comes home from a long day of work, we’re already asked to be a chef, a referee, a cleaning crew. So it’s tough to be a nutritionist, too. But we do have time to take a look at our kids’ plates. As long as they’re half full of fruits and vegetables, and paired with lean proteins, whole grains and low-fat dairy, we’re golden. That’s how easy it is.”

“With so many food options available to consumers, it is often difficult to determine the best foods to put on our plates when building a healthy meal,” said former US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. “MyPlate is an uncomplicated symbol to help remind people to think about their food choices in order to lead healthier lifestyles. This effort is about more than just giving information, it is a matter of making people understand there are options and practical ways to apply them to their daily lives.”

MyPlate is a Great Visual Tool

You can teach your kids how to use MyPlate by focusing on these five simple messages: 1) Half of a healthy plate should always include fruits and vegetables, 2) Drink water instead of soda and sugary juices, 3) Make half of your grains whole, 4) Go lean with protein, and 5) Try more healthy snacks.

The pictures on the left below show an unhealthy plate. However, by using MyPlate an unbalanced plate can easily become a balanced and healthy plate. It is all a matter of adding more fruits and veggies, cutting back on grains, and eating less carbohydrates, refined carbohydrates in particular.

By changing the meals below from an unhealthy to a balanced plate, we reduced the total calories from 7,224 to only 2,399 calories. That is almost 5,000 less calories! Keep in mind that it is important to avoid fried foods and instead make grilling and cooking at home a daily habit. Also MyPlate is not just for kids, but for adults too. So get the whole family involved and start today making it a healthy plate!

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At Kalina’s Fitness, our mission is to give teens (ages 8-18) the tools they need to transform their lives and build healthy habits that will last a lifetime. By combining nutrition, group support, and exercise classes, we provide a complete solution that empowers kids and teens to achieve their fitness goals. We are driven by a strong belief that every child deserves the opportunity to realize their full potential.

It all starts with a one-on-one nutritional consultation to better understand your child’s eating habits. Your health coach will prepare a nutrition plan that gives your family the flexibility needed to make permanent lifestyle changes. Register today for a Free Day Pass so we can help your child to build healthy habits and get fit. We look forward to serving you with excellence. Thank you for visiting us!