The United States Department of Agriculture has abandoned their pyramid scheme. No, not a con game to sucker investors, but their iconic food pyramid.
The multi-colored pyramid which graced children’s cereal boxes for generations will now give way to MyPlate, a dinner plate icon divided up into colorful sections to signify healthy foods and portion sizes.
Jane Crawford, Director of the Santa Clarita Valley Food Services Agency likes the plate over the pyramid:
“The visual is more actual rather than the pyramid that is more abstract. I think this is a wonderful teaching tool that we can use in our schools as well as the backs of our menus.”
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First Lady Michelle Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack unveiled the federal government’s new food symbol to help consumers make healthier food choices.
“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,” said First Lady Michelle Obama.
The new MyPlate icon emphasizes the fruit, vegetable, grains, protein and dairy food groups.
“It shows you how much food you should have on your plate and what it should be. That half your plate should be fruits and vegetables, that you should have a grain, and then a protein as well,” Crawford said.
“It is often difficult to determine the best foods to put on our plates when building a healthy meal,” said Secretary Vilsack. “MyPlate is an uncomplicated symbol to help remind people to think about their food choices in order to lead healthier lifestyles.”
Crawford says when building a healthy and tasty school lunch program they look in unusual places, like the trashcan to see what kids are throwing away.
“Yes, we do. We go out and we look at the trashcans. And we actually do taste testing with out students. Before food goes out to the school we have taste testing with generally over one hundred students. We test it with them first and they give us feedback. We never put anything on the menu without testing first,” Crawford said.
Originally identified in the Child Obesity Task Force report which noted that simple, actionable advice for consumers is needed, MyPlate will replace the MyPyramid image as the government’s primary food group symbol.
The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, launched in January of this year, form the basis of the federal government’s nutrition education programs, federal nutrition assistance programs, and dietary advice provided by health and nutrition professionals.
The Guidelines messages include:
• Enjoy your food, but eat less.
• Avoid oversized portions.
Foods to Increase
• Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
• Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.
• Make at least half your grains whole grains
Foods to Reduce
• Compare sodium (salt) in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals, and choose foods with lower numbers.
• Drink water instead of sugary drinks.
Crawford says she wants the public to know how much the schools and their Wellness Committees are doing on behalf of the students in the Santa Clarita Valley.
“We strive and have for many, many years to provide the best quality lunch program and breakfast program as we possible can. And teaching students to eat healthy choices,” Crawford said.
For other practical information to help your family create healthier diets click here.