Michelle Obama recently joined forces with the USDA to introduce an easier guide to what Americans should be eating. The visual guide, “My Plate” is just that. A plate, with a pie chart of sorts on it, divided into four sections. Fruits, grains, vegetables, and protein are represented. Off to the side, in what I can only assume is a glass, is dairy.
The most current version of the USDA food pyramid had been around since 1992, and was often debated by nutrition experts. Many of which argued that the level of carbohydrates was too high. With diabetes running rampant in the US, their arguments did not fall completely on deaf ears.
Carbohydrates are not listed on My Plate, however, grains, fruits, and some vegetables would easily fit under a carbohydrate label. The difference being that whole grains provide complex carbohydrates, which do not spike glucose levels as quickly. Fruits contain only natural sugars. And the amount of carbohydrates in most vegetables is minimal. By not including the word “carbohydrates” on the plate, Americans that may not be well versed in all things food will not assume that they need them, and that all carbs are created equal.
Oils and nuts are also not represented on My Plate, which is concerning, as many oils are actually good for you, and nuts are as well. I guess the USDA My Plate experts assume that people know this. But really, if you needed to simplify the food pyramid so that we would understand, won’t it only complicate things if you leave important items out altogether?
I am torn between applauding Michelle Obama and the USDA for creating a simplified method of showing us what we should eat, and being insulted that My Plate seems a dumbed down version of the food pyramid. I guess approval should win out, as clearly many Americans do not understand what type of food they should be eating.
Or quite possibly they are like me. Fully understanding what I should be eating to be healthy, but choosing to eat the junk food anyway. Maybe it is time to focus less on telling individuals what they should have on their plate, and start considering regulations that would ensure that the food offered to us is healthier. Clearly, I, and millions just like me, do not have the self control to make the right choices on a daily basis.
The USDA My Plate information will likely not bring about a radical change in the way we eat, but it is a start. The old USDA food pyramid had grown stagnant, and few people referred to it anymore. Maybe the new My Plate version will get people thinking. It certainly has had that effect on me.