Why was My Pyramid replaced? Was the information no longer true?

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) created the Food Guide Pyramid approximately 2 decades ago. It was designed to be an easy way to help people understand the basics of healthy eating. However, according to the Harvard School of Public Health, “its blueprint was based on shaky scientific evidence, and it barely changed over the years to reflect major advances in our understanding of the connection between diet and health.” The Food Guide Pyramid was retired in 2005 and the USDA launched a new campaign called MyPyramid. This design was highly criticized for being too complicated and confusing. So, in 2011 the USDA released its latest healthy eating design called MyPlate. This design simplifies recommendations for a nutritious diet. It shows a plate that is divided into sections. The entire left side of the plate contains healthy fruits and vegetables. The right side is divided into a “grains” section and a “protein” section. There is a small round area for “dairy” on the side of the plate as well.
MyPlate is an easy visual for healthy eating. People of all ages can clearly see that our plate needs to contain mostly fruits and veggies with only a small amount of room for carbohydrates and protein. It can be helpful to some when they are plating up their food and can encourage kids to fill their plates as much as possible with produce. Critics of MyPlate say that, while it is much more helpful than MyPyramid, it has its shortcomings also. They point out that simply suggesting one eat “grains” does not urge us to choose whole grains over refined grains. A much healthier “grain” side would be quinoa vs. white rice, but you would not know that from the simplistic “grain” recommendation. Critics also say that red meat is considered a “protein” but we know that we need to limit consumption of red and processed meats and choose leaner “proteins”. However this advice is also not explained.
In order to provide a more complete visual for nutrition education, the Harvard School of Public Health released its own version of the pyramid (called The Healthy Eating Pyramid) in 2008 and then in 2011 it presented its version of the plate (The Healthy Eating Plate). Both of these visuals provide a more in depth discussion about healthy nutrition. There is an overall emphasis on being at a healthy weight and getting plenty of physical activity. Examples of healthy protein sources are provided along with discussion about what constitutes a healthy fat. It explains that not all grains are created equally and there is good information about what is considered a whole grain.

In general I think people need more information and education about healthy eating. I like the simplicity of MyPlate and would gear that more towards kids or people just getting started understanding what a healthy diet looks like. I may encourage the use of The Healthy Eating Pyramid for those who have basic knowledge about nutrition but that want to get more information and learn specific examples of foods that are good for them.

Login to Favorite