The Food Pyramid Is Dead, Meet MyPlate

Illustration for article titled The Food Pyramid Is Dead, Meet MyPlate

Today Michelle Obama unveiled MyPlate, a new symbol for what Americans should be eating. For the first time the government is presenting nutritional information in a shape that people can easily visualize, rather than an image of a rainbow emanating from a disco ball next to a dude with no extremities. That's what we call progress!

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Illustration for article titled The Food Pyramid Is Dead, Meet MyPlate

MyPlate, which was developed by the Agriculture Department, features quadrants with fruits and vegetables taking up one half of a plate, with grains and proteins filling the other side. Dairy has its own saucer off to the side. According to the Associated Press, Obama says the new shape will make it easier for parents to make their kids' meals healthy:

"Parents don't have the time to measure out exactly three ounces of protein," Mrs. Obama said as she introduced the new graphic. "We do have time to look at our kids' plates."

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The new guideline is the cornerstone of Obama's anti-obesity campaign, so naturally it will only be a matter of time before Republicans are calling her un-American for not leaving a space for apple pie. However, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack notes that MyPlate doesn't suggest there's no room for everyone's favorite piece of the old pyramid, "Fats, Oils & Sweets":

"We are not telling people what to eat, we are giving them a guide," he said. "We're not suggesting they should not have a cookie or dessert, that's not what it's about."

Nutritionists weren't fond of MyPyramid, and Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition at New York University takes issue with the "protein" portion of MyPlate. She points out to the New York Times that grains and dairy also provide protein, and Americans are getting too much of the stuff anyway. However, she praised the graphic for emphasizing fruits and vegetables. The new half-plate guideline may be a shock to those who consider tomato sauce on pizza a sufficient serving of veggies for the day. Overall, Nestle offered this assessment: "It's better than the pyramid, but that's not saying a lot." That's probably as close to a rave review as the government is going to get.

Food Pyramid Out, "My Plate" In For Healthy Eating [AP]
Nutrition Place Unveiled To Replace The Food Pyramid [NYT]

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DISCUSSION

Reading all these comments (and other similar conversations about health/nutrition/food) just makes me feel super overwhelmed, anxious, and frustrated. I honestly can't keep up....

Meat is terrible for you. No, only some meat is terrible for you, it depends on how it's produced. Meat is great for you, if you don't eat meat you'll get sick. Okay, only lean meats then, no red meat. No, red meat is good for you. But only if you're of a certain blood type. Animal fats are bad for you though. No, animal fats are good for you, we need them to survive. Only eat organic. Organic is bullshit. We should eat mostly animal protein and vegetables. Grains are terrible. No, only some grains. We should eat no grains, ever. We should only eat whole grains and legumes. Your diet should be based mostly on whole grains, vegetables, and non-animal proteins. Our bodies can't digest non-animal proteins. But eating meat is the worst thing EVER. No, dairy is the worst thing ever. But only some kinds of dairy, cheese is ok but not milk. But only organic cheese. And don't eat any tropical fruit. Don't eat anything that doesn't grow where you live. Don't eat peppers and tomatoes. Only eat seasonal produce...... *cue freakout*

As someone who has been recovered from 10 years with an eating disorder for 4 years now, I care deeply about my health, and what I put into my body, and I want to eat as ethically and nutritiously as possible, but I just CANNOT keep up with all this crazy, contradictory information that is constantly popping up. I can't stand that I get lectures about the evils of some foods from certain friends, and then the next day someone posts something on Facebook saying the complete opposite. Is it all true? Is none of it true? Where does the reliable information come from? Everyone seems to have some scientific evidence to back up what they're saying....

Anyway, sorry for this kind of crazy post, but it just makes my head spin...does anyone else feel that way?