A "Real Food" guide to the MyPlate Graphic

Last month the USDA unveiled a new info-graphic called MyPlate, which was aimed to help Americans make better decisions about healthy eating. The graphic was an initiative made by First Lady Michelle Obama to replace the somewhat confusing MyPyramid graphic that was released in 2005. It was a way to help not only kids but all Americans combat against obesity, which affects 1 in 3 kids today. After the icon was release, it received mixed reactions.

MyPlate depicts sections of a dinner plate each designating a healthy portions of food including fruits, vegetables, grains, and protein as well as dairy.

However, Kristin Wartman at CivilEats.com argues that MyPlate fails to recognize certain structural problems. Healthy eating should be derived from "real food" such as whole grains and organic vegetables, which a lot of Americans don't have access to or the knowledge of where to buy them. Just because the USDA puts out guidelines on how to eat healthy, doesn't mean they can access these foods. Change is needed from the top down in order to make the demand for foods not packaged, canned or processed more readily available. Buying from your local grocer or farmers' market is better than not knowing where your vegetables and meats came from.

The suggestions from Civil Eats are not hard to follow, and do share similarities with the MyPlate graphic. Start out with a primarily plant-based diet (around 60-75%) including vegetables, fruits, beans and legumes as well as whole grains in their natural (not processed!) form such as brown rice and quinoa. Wartman's "Real Food" plan suggests skipping the high-sugar fruit juices and sticking to water and when you drink dairy, go with dairy products in their "unadulterated form" a.k.a. whole milk instead of low-fat or fat-free choices. Meats should be organic and fish should be wild-caught as anything else runs the risk of having added chemicals or other additives. Other things to remember: use good fats like butter and olive oil and minimize your use of refined sugars.

Check out the revised "Real Food"graphic Wartman suggests here. Designed by Voltier Creative, it gives more information than the simple MyPlate icon.

Do you plan to use the MyPlate graphic or do you use your own guide to ensure healthy eating?