Earlier this year, the USDA released its new healthy eating graphic. Replacing the much criticized food pyramids, “MyPlate” was largely considered an improvement but still not quite right. Says Walter Willett, Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, “Unfortunately, like the earlier…Pyramids, MyPlate mixes science with the influence of powerful agricultural interests, which is not the recipe for healthy eating.”

Of course, it’s one thing to complain, another to provide solutions – which Willett and his Harvard colleagues have tried to do with their recently released Healthy Eating Plate [PDF]:



The changes:

  • Whole grains and “healthy proteins” are stressed.
  • Healthy fats are included.
  • French fries – and potatoes in general – aren’t counted as vegetables.
  • Vegetables dominate the plate, and variety is stressed.
  • Dairy isn’t included as it’s own group.
  • All sugary drinks are limited – not just soft drinks, but juices and flavored milk, too.
  • Water is included as the beverage of choice.
  • Physical activity is encouraged.

Overall, this is better, though you could argue that the oil decanter hides the fact that healthy fats can also come directly from foods, or that the portion of grains may still be a bit much. Low-carb and “paleo” eaters may vehemently disagree with its limits on saturated fats.

What do you think? Do you even use such guides in deciding what to eat? If so, how? If not, why?

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