Remember the Food Guide Pyramid? Or maybe even the Food Wheel? Guess what ... the "Pyramid" is now a "Plate." In fact, it's called "My Plate". So what's up with this new guide for how to build a balanced plate for healthier living?

What is My Plate?

My Plate is the new and improved food guide pyramid from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. My Plate is a visual of what your ideal plate should look like at each meal. It shows the building blocks for a healthy diet and how much you should have at a single meal.

The plate is divided into four sections:

1) Protein

2) Grains

3) Fruits

4) Vegetables, with a side of dairy. 

Eating well can slow the process of aging and make aging more comfortable. So you can look at My Plate as another tool to help you "live longer and stronger," as I like to put it!

My Plate General Recommendations

  • Make ½ of your plate vegetables and whole fruits
  • Make ¼ of your plate lean protein
  • Make ¼ of your plate grains, and make half your grains whole grains.
  • Dairy: Move to low-fat and fat-free milk or yogurt.
  • Drink and eat less sodium and added sugars. Eat more fiber.

Let’s take a closer look at these recommendations:

  1. Make ½ of your plate vegetables and fruits:​ Focus on whole fruits over fruit juices: Whole or cut-up fruits are sources of dietary fiber; fruit juices contain little or no fiber and often added sugars. Two examples of some vitamins whole fruits contain are 1) Vitamin C, which is important for growth and repair of all body tissues, helps heal cuts and wounds, and keeps teeth and gums healthy, and 2) Folate which helps the body form red blood cells. Vary your veggies: Vegetables contain a variety of different vitamins, minerals and are a great source of fiber. It’s important to choose a variety because different vegetables provide different types and amounts of key vitamins and minerals, which help fight chronic diseases.
  2. Make ¼ of your plate lean protein: Protein builds muscles and helps repair body tissue when you are sick. Lean protein sources include: fish, poultry, beans, lentils, low-fat dairy, eggs, nuts and seeds. Protein is an important component of every cell in the body
  3. Make ¼ of your plate grains: Carbohydrates give us energy! Whole grain carbohydrates are full of fiber and b-12 vitamins. Some examples of whole grains include: barley, brown rice, buckwheat, oatmeal, popcorn, whole-wheat bread, pasta, or crackers.
  4. Dairy: Move to low-fat and fat-free milk or yogurt:  Dairy is essential for bone and teeth health.  Dairy foods are considered nutrient-rich because they serve as good sources of calcium and vitamin D as well as protein and other essential nutrients. They provide phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, and vitamins A, B12, and riboflavin.

I invite you to start incorporating these four recommendations into your daily food choices. We'll explore more about My Plate and the website chooseMyPlate.gov in my next blog. For now, use the My Plate visual to help you build a balanced plate at every meal.

Christina Gilboy is a Registered Dietitian, Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist, and Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. She shares her expertise and passion for healthy living with residents as Lenbrook's Nutrition Care Manager, overseeing daily menus for all Lenbrook food service, providing individualized medical nutrition therapy, and dietary education. A college soccer player at Appalachian State University, Christina holds bachelors' degrees in both Health Promotion and Nutrition and Dietetics.