The latest nutrition guide from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), called MyPlate, is a dinner plate divided into four compartments: vegetables, fruits, grains and protein—with a circle off to the side representing dairy foods (such as milk and yogurt).
It’s recommended that you fill half your plate with vegetables and fruit. Grains (such as brown rice, whole-wheat pasta and oatmeal) and protein foods (such as fish, poultry, meat, eggs, beans and tofu) should each take up about a quarter of the plate. Keeping this new visual in mind when you serve yourself and your family is the key to healthful, balanced meals.
MyPlate takes the place of the USDA’s much-maligned Food Pyramid, which was confusing and not all that helpful. The new guide was unveiled in 2011 as part of first lady Michelle Obama’s anti-obesity campaign and is meant to simplify healthful eating. It’s not perfect, but it’s an improvement, in particular because it clearly emphasizes plant foods.
The USDA’s Myplate website provides more information about what foods are in each group, along with daily food plans, a “supertracker” program where you can track and analyze your diet and physical activity and other useful information.