As most of us know by now, in June 2011, the USDA replaced the old MyPyramid with a new symbol, MyPlate. And we can’t really blame them, after all, we eat off of plates, not pyramids. Before the switch, the latest version of the food pyramid, although striped, colorful, and well-intentioned, shed little light on what and how much we are supposed to eat. The new plate symbol is much clearer, showing us what proportion of our plate should be filled with what kinds of food (Sidenote: protein is actually a nutrient, not a food). The symbol is accompanied by the following key messages, aimed at helping us to eat healthfully while controlling portions:

Balancing Calories – Enjoy your food, but eat less. Avoid oversized portions.

Foods to Increase – Make half your plate fruits and vegetables. Make at least half your grains whole grains. Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.

Foods to Reduce – Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals – and choose the foods with lower numbers. Drink water instead of sugary drinks.

What do these guidelines actually mean? Well, the first is pointing out that food should be enjoyed (amen!) but we should not overindulge – in other words, don’t overload your plate! The second focuses on what our plates should actually look like, with perhaps less of an emphasis on whole grains than some nutritionists have suggested. The final guideline pinpoints sodium and sugary drinks as substances to avoid. A helpful caveat to the mention of sodium might be the suggestion to minimize salty snacks as well.

Even if we just start focusing on what our own and our loved one’s plates look like, filling half of them with fruits and vegetables, we will be well on our way to an overall healthy eating plan, assuming we aren’t overloading on salty snack foods, rich desserts, or too much alcohol. There isn’t really much advice for what to eat between meals, unless you choose to go online to personalize your plate where you’ll find a mention of how many “empty” calories you personally can afford each day based on age, sex, weight, and level of activity. These “extra” calories can be used for things like mayonnaise on your turkey sandwich, a small glass of wine with dinner, or a few pieces of dark chocolate for dessert. To our dismay, exercise advice does not accompany the new symbol, even though it was incorporated into the old pyramid and is still advocated by the USDA.

Although many of us don’t have the time, means, or desire to go online, customize our plate, and figure out exactly how much of each food group we need per day, (even though we recommend it; it’s fun!) there’s enough visual guidance in the new symbol to help our families eat better. In this regard, MyPlate is a vast improvement over its predecessor, MyPyramid.

To customize your plate, or find out more about the foods and guidelines it promotes, be sure to take a look at the USDA’s MyPlate website at To read more about the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans off which MyPlate is based, head over to the ADA website If Family Food can help you and your family build a better plate, feel free to call, e-mail, or leave us a message on Facebook or Twitter:







I had a great 1st visit with the nutritionist. I went to get tips on changing by diet, but got much more. I was able to set a physical activity and nutrition goal. The nutritionist was knowledgeable and helpful.

I am so grateful for the stellar support and advice provided by Meghan, the dietitian I'm working with. She is both knowledgeable and kind, and it's a deeply productive journey. Thank you."



Consulting with a Family Food nutritionist is turning out to be helpful in my effort to live healthy. The consultations are a way of having a sense of accountability and I get helpful feedback on my dietary decisions.



Great nutrition experts who inspire you! I am happy with the nutrition specialists at Family Food. They make me excited about nutrition, answer all my questions, and provide excellent recommendations! Thank you!!



Very professional experience. I felt she listened to my needs and adjusted to personalize my nutrition needs.



My initial appointment was helpful - helped me consider new ways of addressing some problem areas for me and helped set attainable, concrete goals.



Insightful and Informative. She was very attentive and helpful. She gave excellent tips on what to do and eat to meet my goal weight.



I feel confident about the changes we made to my goals and look forward to implementing them into my everyday routine. The health adviser was very helpful and didn't make me feel shameful for not meeting all my previous goals.



I highly recommend Family Food. The nutritionist, Erika is helpful and provides great information and positive feedback.



I had an excellent experience with the representative from Family Food. She really read into what I was telling her and offered excellent advice that I am already able to implement after one visit. She also helped to make the best use of the hour long session. Very good time management!



I met with a dietician for the first time and I had an idea of what to expect but I find this to be an invaluable resource because I have already received great ideas of things to use for meal planning and I also received more information of how to read nutrition labels. I am looking forward to my next appointment.



I really enjoyed my first session with Christine. She provided me with a lot of solid information on issues I was not aware of and positive reinforcement for behaviors I have already engaged in. I outlined specific goals I would like to work on with her guidance and she gave me some initial steps to start. I found what she had to say respectful of the space I am in and cognizant of obstacles to making lifestyle and lifelong changes.



I walked in without any specific questions/concerns, and my counseling was well-guided and ended up helping me see specific small changes that I can make to keep me on-track with my nutrition goals. Solutions fit my lifestyle and were not cookie-cutter, which is fantastic. I was able to start making improvements immediately. Thank you!



I am finding the sessions helpful and a good way to talk through improving habits and making better food choices.



I am very happy this program exists. It has been very helpful and informative. My deitition is very nice and intelligent I am happy to have her help and support.



The Family Food blog

The most reliable evidence-based nutrition information on child and adult nutrition.

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