The nutritional pyramid went down in history. From 1992 to 2011, the pyramid was the icon that established how to eat healthy: on the bottom, the foods that should be consumed the most and at the top, those foods that should only be eaten occasionally, such as sweets and fats. In the middle, the servings of protein, grains, and dairy were specified.
However, after several years of investigation, the United States government (the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services in a joint effort) announced that as of June 2011 the pyramid would be replaced by the plate.
It’s much easier to visualize something in the way we actually eat it, on a plate. The circular plate, which consists of 4 sections of different colors for fruits, vegetables, grains and proteins. Next to the plate, there is a small circle that indicates the dairy, whether it is a glass of milk, a cup of yogurt or a piece of cheese.
The change was immediately accepted by the nutrition community. For many, the pyramid was confusing, not clearly distinguishing between healthy foods like whole grains and not-so-healthy foods like white bread, for example. Not to mention that the dish is much easier for anyone to interpret.
This new plate was modeled after the anti-obesity program chaired by then-First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama: who suggested that your plate contain half vegetables and half fruits.
It contains six key messages about healthy eating:
- Enjoy your food, but eat less.
- Avoid oversized portions.
- Serve half your plate with fruits and vegetables.
- Switch to low-fat or fat-free milk.
- Compare the sodium (salt) in foods like soup, bread, and frozen foods and choose those that contain less.
- Drink water instead of sugary drinks.