MyPlate is produced by the USDA and based on the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
What’s so great about MyPlate? For one, it’s simple and straightforward. The plate icon's segments display all the familiar food groups: fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and dairy. But unlike the pyramid, the plate instantly conveys a sense of proper proportion between them. At a glance, it’s easy to see that fruits and veggies should take up half of your plate.
Allrecipes is now working with Let's Move! and the Partnership for a Healthier America to help Americans find MyPlate-ready food options. Get ideas for creating healthy, tasty plates--check out our new MyPlate recipes collection, our MyPlate video collection, or the new MyPlate Pinterest board.
Foods in the Vegetable Group
As you can see, vegetables take up the most room on the plate. Foods in this group include veggies of all shapes and sizes and in all conditions. We’re talking fresh, frozen, and canned; dried and dehydrated; whole or cut up; raw or cooked. Beans and peas also fall into the vegetables category, as do juices made from 100% vegetables. Tomatoes and eggplants, which are technically fruits but are most often treated and eaten as veggies, qualify as vegetables.
Foods in the Fruit Group
As with vegetables, the fruit group includes all kinds of fruit whether plucked from a tree, poured from a tin, or pulled from the freezer; it includes whole fruits, cut fruits, pureed fruits, dried fruits, frozen fruits, and juice from 100% fruit.
Foods in the Grains Group
Grains come in two categories: whole and refined. A grain is considered “whole” if it includes the kernel’s bran, germ, and endosperm. Whole-wheat flour, brown rice, oatmeal, and cracked wheat (bulgur) are examples of whole grains.
Refined grains, on the other hand, have had the bran and germ milled right out of them, along with dietary fiber, iron, and B vitamins. Of course, the refined grains you find in the supermarket (white flour, white rice, and white bread) have been enriched with these lost vitamins and iron, but the fiber, unfortunately, is gone for good.
The grains category includes tortillas, breakfast cereal, grits, popcorn, pasta, quinoa, cornmeal, barley, and buckwheat. ChooseMyPlate recommends that at least half of your grains are whole grains.
Foods in the Protein Group
In the protein category, we find meats (including wild game), poultry, seafood, eggs, nuts, seeds, plus beans and peas (which pull double duty, as they also appear in the vegetable group). Naturally this meaty advice does not apply to vegetarians, who can meet their protein needs just fine by eating only the non-animal proteins listed above.
With the protein group, MyPlate makes two suggestions: “go lean” and choose a variety of meats, including 8 ounces of seafood per week.
Foods in the Dairy Group
This is the smallest segment. It includes cheese, milk, yogurt, desserts made from milk (like ice cream and pudding), and soy milk. In this group, the USDA recommends fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese.
Helping Kids Make Choices
The companion website ChooseMyPlate.gov includes advice to help families build better, healthier diets.
The website includes lists of foods to increase in your diet and foods to reduce. The website also goes into detail about daily recommendations for each food group, arranged by gender and age, and provides tip sheets and other resources.
See some of our own tips, tricks, and recipes to help kids grow up healthy.