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Understanding What's on MyPlate

MyPyramid logoYou may wonder what foods you should eat and how much. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) developed MyPlate to help. MyPlate is a website that helps people plan balanced meals. It contains:

The best part is that it is free!

A Closer Look at MyPlate

MyPlate was created to help Americans eat healthier. The MyPlate website helps you make healthier choices with:

Food Groups

The image of the plate is to remind people what to eat and how much. Each colored area on the plate is for a different food group. It also helps you see how much of that food should be on your plate:

Color Food Group
Orange Grains
Green Vegetables
Red Fruits
Blue Dairy
Purple Protein foods

The amount you should eat from each group depends on your age, sex, and physical activity level. MyPlate gives you examples of food and portion sizes.

Eat the Right Amount

MyPlate provides key tips for each food group:

  • Fruits and vegetables : Half your plate should be filled with fruits and vegetables.
  • Grains : At least half your grains should be whole grains.
  • Protein : Choose lean or low-fat meat and poultry. Include at least 8 ounces of seafood per week. Beans, peas, lentils, nuts, seeds, soy, and eggs are other good sources of protein.
  • Dairy : Use fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk. There are also suggestions for those who do not eat or drink dairy foods.

Keep Track of Calories

MyPlate also provides ways for you to reduce calories. Substituting other foods can make a big difference. For example, if you want to cut back on sugar, choose water instead of soda. Maybe you are not ready to do that. Try switching to sugar-free soda first. Then slowly add more water and drink less sugar-free soda.

In general, most of your calories should be from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Keep track of the foods you eat and the calories in them. Also keep in mind that physical activity helps you burn calories. MyPlate can help you reach and keep a healthy weight.

Make Other Healthy Changes

MyPlate has tips on many other nutrition topics, such as:

  • How to choose and use oils
  • Limiting salt (sodium), added sugars, and saturated fats
  • Alcohol
  • Eating healthy when you do not have much money
  • Food safety
  • Reading food labels

Increase Physical Activity

Physical activity is important for weight control. MyPlate can help you find ways to increase your activity level.

Aim for at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity. Aerobic activity is anything that gets your heart beating faster.

Use the MyPlate Plan

MyPlate has information for people of all ages, from early childhood to older adults. If you pregnant or breastfeeding, MyPlate has something for you too. Set and reach your nutrition goals. Make easy, delicious, and healthy meals. There is always room on your plate for MyPlate!

RESOURCES:

My Plate—US Department of Agriculture
https://www.myplate.gov

My Healthfinder
https://health.gov/myhealthfinder

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Dietitians of Canada
http://www.dietitians.ca

Health Canada
https://www.canada.ca

REFERENCES:

Current dietary guidelines. US Department of Agriculture and US Department of Health and Human Services website. Available at: https://health.gov/our-work/food-nutrition/current-dietary-guidelines. Accessed June 14, 2021.

Diets for weight loss. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/management/diets-for-weight-loss. Accessed June 14, 2021.

What's on your plate?. My Plate—US Department of Agriculture website. Available at: https://www.myplate.gov/. Accessed June 14, 2021.

Be salt smart. MyPlate—U.S. Department of Agriculture website. Available at: https://www.myplate.gov/tip-sheet/be-salt-smart . Accessed June 14, 2021.

MyPlate plan. MyPlate—U.S. Department of Agriculture website. Available at: https://www.myplate.gov/myplate-plan. Accessed June 14, 2021.

Last reviewed June 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board  Last Updated: 6/14/2021