The New “MyPlate” Recommendations Won’t be on My Plate

Recently, I wrote about the problems with the outdated USDA Food Pyramid… today, I present to you… a step in the wrong direction!

While the outdated “Pyramid” was apparently too confusing for normal people to understand, the new “MyPlate” was designed to be easy to understand, and it is… insultingly easy!

It’s true that a visual representation of a plate may be easier to interpret for many people, but unfortunately, it is only going to help interpret the same bad advice.

The new MyPlate guidelines, pioneered by Michelle Obama, still suggest at least half of dietary intake come from starches and sugars (grains and fruit), less than 1/4 come from protein, and another 1/4 come from vegetables, which could also be starchy.

Dairy, presumably low-fat, is thrown in as an afterthought, that should be consumed as a liquid, preferably preceded by a “skim, 1% or 2%.”

Fat? Hmmm… I guess the $2 million dollar committee-based-effort just forgot to include the recommendation for any fat…

Maybe they missed all the recent information about major studies concluding that saturated fat doesn’t cause heart disease, or the meta-analysis showing no link between fat and heart disease,  or all the information presented by Gary Taubes in his (500 page) brilliant case against the lipid hypothesis.

Heck, a $2 million dollar effort can hardly be expected to examine all the information and present an unbiased conclusion, especially when the USDA is so busy subsidizing foods like corn, wheat, and soybeans to the tune of $20 Billion a year!

Now, this wouldn’t be so bad if the USDA were just offering these “guidelines” for free-thinking adults who are capable of buying their own food and making their own nutrition decisions. The problem is, these guidelines also dictate what children are fed at schools. (Though, this might be a good thing in some parents eyes)

Further restricting fat and calories is not only going to do nothing for the childhood obesity epidemic, it is harmful to developing brains of children. In fact, not getting enough fat, or getting the wrong kind of fat (like vegetable oils promoted by the USDA) has been shown to have a negative impact on IQ later in life.

Yet, this new government-generated graphic is supposed to lead us all on the path to optimal health, even though the food pyramid (which was basically the exact same recommendations) has done the opposite… not that any of us could follow it, because it was so confusing. (eyeroll)

You’ve probably caught on by now that I’m pretty peeved at this latest attempt to intervene in our nation’s health, especially because the advice being promoted is going to damage health, not improve it (though I wouldn’t want government interference even if they were promoting the exact same thing I was).

I’m annoyed because fat is not the problem, grains and excess sugars and starches are, yet the mainstream medical/nutritional communities continue to promote these ideas as healthy.

If people want to make the choice to live on Pizza, hamburgers and soda, they should absolutely have that choice, in my opinion. It is the fact that many people are being misled into thinking that a “balanced” diet of grains, sugars, and vegetables with a little protein and very little fat is actually the standard they should look to for health.

I’m annoyed that the “experts” are still telling people that it is all about portion control and “calories in, calories out” while these same people, trying to follow that advice, are getting sicker! (Not to mention it is much more about hormones than calories!)

It makes me sick that healthy fats (saturated included!) are still being demonized, and disease causing omega-6 Vegetable oils are still recommended. (Still not sure on the fats issue? Watch this documentary for free now!)

What Is The Solution?

Step One: Stop looking to any branch of the government for nutritional advice (especially one that subsidizes agricultural crops!)

Step Two: Do your own research and take responsibility for your own health! (Don’t take my word for anything… research it yourself!)

Some other bloggers have written excellent takes on this as well (like here and here). Tom Naughton also has a great take on the issue as well, if you are in need of a good laugh!

For my part, I thought that a few changes could help the new MyPlate actually look like something that I would put on my plate. If I had to stick with the same model, it would likely look something like this:

But, then again, if I wasn’t limited to a measly $2 million dollar budget because I’d spent all my money subsidizing corn, wheat, and soybeans, I might even design a really flashy plate that would help all of us who were “confused” by the pyramid to really understand what to eat. Though, mine would look like this:

wellness plate better my plate recommendations The New MyPlate Recommendations Wont be on My Plate

Bottom line… if you want to be healthier, fill YourPlate with foods like meats, eggs, vegetables, avocado, coconuts, some fruits, raw full-fat dairy etc and limit anything canned, bagged, processed or frozen (especially if it contains corn, wheat, or soybeans).

What do you think? Is the new MyPlate a step in the right direction or merely a more insulting way of offering bad dietary advice? What would your plate look like?

Reader Comments

  1. Daria says

    Love this post!  I am also frustrated by the conventional wisdom. It is because of this that people look at me like I have two heads when I tell them I don’t eat grains.  Your plate looks much better!  If only the USDA had the balls to recommend that.

  2. Ona says

    I think the new “plate” is a great visual… and I just used good ol’ COMMON SENSE to limit the amt of starchy veggies, etc in my diet. *rolls eyes.

  3. Chub says

    I saw the bacon plate somewhere else as well and love it as I just polished off two pieces for breakfast, lol.  Great post though love how you always link to what you’re saying so we can all see for ourselves. 

  4. Thegn says

    This is Thrand!!!
    Great article you are a true Alewife and speak the truth ,I shall tell many about this site :P

  5. Karyn says

    This isn’t exactly related to the MyPlate but you always write such nutritional wisdom that I thought I would ask…what is the problem with frozen fruits? I know canned can be a problem because of BHA and being packed in syrups sometimes. And I understand why fresh, in-season local produce is best – but why do I keep seeing admonishments about frozen fruits? Are frozen blueberries thrown into smoothies or something that bad? Oftentimes they look better…

    • says

      From what I understand, chemicals can be added in the packaging of
      frozen fruit… although not an issue if you freeze yourself. In
      general, frozen fruit is one of our moderation items. I think its
      possible to have too much fruit in general, but berries are certainly
      one of the better kinds of fruit, and I agree, often it seems better
      to go with frozen fruit that was frozen while fresh than to buy fresh
      in the winter.

      • Casandra says

        Thanks, that was my question as well about the frozen fruit, hadn’t heard about chemicals used in the process. I run a home daycare and have used the usda food program, they reimburse me but seems the kids are always running into situations where going by their guidelines is creating imbalances, so seriously considering not using them, but our local government wants you to submit a plan if you do not use the food program, wonder if they’d approve my plan if it’s more like your plate.

  6. says

    Gotta laugh thou at how many other countries copy USA’s dietary guidelines. thou its odd that if you deal with WIC they tell you whole milk till the kiddo turns 2 claiming that its good for brain development and forget most the growth is between birth and 5 not birth and 2.

  7. Pixie says

    I went to my Nutritionist to show her the new direction of eating I want to head in Paleo and she said I wouldn’t get enough nutrition that way because it didn’t include grains. I thought to myself I think I know better how my body reacts then she does but it really discouraged me because she was fine when I tried going vegan and it didn’t work. She also called it extreme. I think it is extremely healthy! :) What does everyone think? I have Celiac Disease and this would save me a lot of time reading labels!!

    • says

      Maybe point out to her that meat, vegetables and fats have by far
      more nutrients than grains… Good grief, she supported veganism, but
      now even though you are Celiac, wants you to go through the trouble
      of eating alternative grains…. Good for you for knowing how your
      body reacts!

    • Emily says

      I’m feeling the same way…I’m (almost) 6 years out from a double lung transplant, and to get me to lose weight my nutritionist is always pushing Weight Watchers, grains, low-fat…but I really think that going this way (ie, Paleo/Primal/WM plan) would be super-beneficial to me. But I’m guessing that my docs/nutritionist would NOT feel the same way. Especially if I mentioned bacon for breakfast, or eggs! My last doctor told me to cut out almost all eggs because of the cholesterol.

    • kstuff says

      That’s nutso. My sister-in-law is trying to do gluten free, and after reading through this blog, I’m going to join her, only cut out all grains, so I just don’t have to think about that anymore. My nutritionist gave me a diet that is high protein, vegetables and fruit, and after reading through this blog, I’m going to add in there good oils. I rarely take a doctor’s word for it, because they don’t really know how I feel.

  8. says

    You are so funny!  Love your “plate.”  I get so tired of the doctors and the government giving us this ridiculous diet advice, despite the studies proving it wrong.  Your response is just what I needed – thanks! 

  9. SteveG says

    Just found your blog through Jen’s Conversion Diary blog, and overall I really like it!

    As I mentioned there, I don’t agree with the counter demonizing of Grains that I see happening on the low carb-side of the isle, but I definitely agree with the statements that we eat too much sugar and grains and that fat is NOT the problem.

    In fact the main reason I posted was to share another bit of information in the debate over low fat.  It’s one of the dirtiest secrets in the food wars, and I’ve rarely seen or heard it talked about, but It’s a pretty well established fact that in addition to what you mention above, low fat diets are strongly linked to depression. 

    Just thought you might like another arrow in the quiver. :-)

  10. Heather says

    It’s not just what the kids are fed in school; it’s what it used to determine what snacks the daycares give to their kids, too. My son told me that when he asked for water instead of milk, his daycare provider told him that he would need to bring in a note from the doctor saying he had allergies; otherwise, he would have to drink milk. I told him he had the right to drink whatever he wanted and that though they were probably obligated to offer him milk, he wasn’t obligated to put anything in his mouth he didn’t want to. It’s just a shame that the USDA recommendations are taken as gospel by anyone and everyone in charge of children. Can’t they look around and see how unhealthy these kids are? It boggles my mind.

  11. Samantha Kyle says

    So funny! Your plate looks like my plates do, not because I’m trying to be healthy but just because it tastes better! And the bacon plate is how I wish I could eat after a night out of drinks with friends. Lol

  12. Erin says

    Thank you for mentioning the issue about the USDA guidelines determining the school meals! I worked at a daycare, and we needed to put two servings of grains on the kids’ plate per meal or risked losing our licencing. In some meals, the bread was the grain, beans served as the protein, and potatoes served as the vegetable! Those were the hardest meals for me to serve… where are the green vegetables, the good fats their little brains need, and the healthy proteins? I realize now that the reason behind this was because the beige foods are the cheapest and are purported to be “healthy” so the daycare can get by, cutting costs and keeping the food technically healthful. Now I’m going into a teacher certification program, and I’m kind of scared to see the lunches served up at the public school; I may have to become an activist on this one! I mean, never before have human children been exposed to such unnatural, unnutritious, food, and what kills me is that their well-meaning parents and governments think they are doing the best thing for them; the adults in the children’s lives lack the correct nutritional information which parents since generations and generations have known (until they were told that butter, animal fats, and meat will kill us all….)

    Sorry, mini-rant! :)

  13. Briana says

    I know this is an old post, but I just came across your blog and I am loving what I see…except for this:”Bottom line… if you want to be healthier, fill YourPlate with foods like meats, eggs, vegetables, avocado, coconuts, some fruits, raw full-fat dairy etc and limit anything canned, bagged, processed or frozen (especially if it contains corn, wheat or soybeans).”

    While I agree that I don’t believe the government should be intervening much when it comes to nutritional values, unfortunately they need to, partly because of government subsized school meal programs and such. So there have to be some sort of guidelines set. I like your plate, until you show the visual of food. I don’t believe that a person should or needs to consume dairy, eggs, or meats to be healthy and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Good fats are good, but I don’t see saturated fat as something that should be promoted. Though it may not directly be the one and only cause of heart disease, it’s a contributing factor.

    The problem with the government’s chart is that it’s just promoting these unregulated labels, such as what cereals put on their boxes “made of 7 whole grains” or “contributes to lowering your cholestoral!” These are unregulated and they can pretty much say whatever they want if they can get at least one scientist to back them up. It’s ridiculous.

    • says

      Thanks for reading! We’ll have to disagree on this one! The link between saturated fat and heart disease is spotty at best, and disappears when other variables are taken out (flour, sugar, vegetable oils, etc). When healthy saturated fats are removed, they are often replaced with vegetable based oils (which is funny, because vegetables don’t naturally have oil… http://wellnessmama.com/2193/why-you-should-never-eat-vegetable-oil-or-margarine/). which has been correlated to higher incidence of cancers and other disease and which causes inflammation, which can lead to heart disease. In my opinion, while it is (theoretically) possible to be mostly healthy without meat, it is very difficult, and not at all a good idea in most cases. Eggs are an excellent source of protein and cholesterol, both which the body needs to create hormones and build cells. Here’s some more specifics on the cholesterol and heart disease issue: http://wellnessmama.com/1853/prevent-heart-disease-eat-more-cholesterol/

      • John says

        “In my opinion, while it is (theoretically) possible to be mostly
        healthy without meat, it is very difficult, and not at all a good idea
        in most cases.”
        Theoretically? Mostly healthy? Difficult? It’s unbelievable how out of touch you are with reality. I’m a vegan and I have no difficulty with getting all the nutrients I need, am very physically fit and healthy, no issues with weight, and I do it without supplements except an occasional B12. I’m also considered a raw vegan and 75%+ of my daily meals are raw. I say + because some days I go up to 100% raw and its fantastic. As well, my health dramatically improved by giving up meat and dairy.
        Donald Watson (the originator of the term Vegan) lived to be 95 and was noted for not needing a doctor until his last days.

        Dr. Ellsworth Wareham is 98 y/o vegan for near 50 years and worked as a surgeon until age 95. Annette Larkins? Mimi Kirk? Colin T. Campbell? Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn and Rip? Even Durian Rider or Freelee?

        Seriously, have you been purposefully avoiding the actual data and anecdotal long living stories? Meat and Dairy promote cancer (IGF-1). Meat is inflammatory, vegetables and fruits are anti-inflammatory. Ppl switching to vegan diets get rid of their cancers and illness or avoid them. How about weight? No problem for vegans. To skinny and weak? Have you seen Mac Danzig? Intelligence? Have you seen the studies on vegan children?

        Stop drinking what was meant for cows, stop the slavery and killing of other beings. Nobody needs eggs at all, ever.

        Please read up on proteins and where they come from. Also read up on the myths of proteins. Ask me where I get my nutrients, proteins, cholesterol from since you clearly know nothing about them and have stated that my lifestyle is difficult and only theoretically can be healthier.
        Sorry if this sounds abrupt but your information shows a lack of understanding nutrition and lifestyles. On top of the ethical and health considerations are the ecological and environmental considerations that you leave out of your article. Over 50% of your plate is ruining our planet. No thanks! Your plate needs work. Peace!

  14. sarah says

    I agree completely. The government has no businesses telling people what to eat, especially people like Michelle Obama who is in no way qualified to give nutritional advice.

  15. April Grow says

    I’ve spent years reading and experimenting with nutritional recommendations. Everyone makes such a convincing argument. Never tried low fat bc the processed garbage they add to it is so wrong. Also, it just tastes gross. Never tried vegetarian bc it is not a sustainable lifestyle without the current importing/grocery store system. I don’t think God intended something that would not have been feasible until the last 100 years. Plus, most vegetarians I know don’t eat that many vegetables, they just don’t eat meat. They sustain themselves on processed foods and soy products. I did low carb for several years bc it made me feel so much better (I didn’t have any weight to lose other than the 5 vanity pounds every woman has). But it always bothered me to eliminate an entire food group. I am always wary of anything extreme. And I love bread products. I love pizza! Last year I took a class on naturally leavened breads and it made a lot of sense to me. Using the natural yeast in the air instead of grocery store yeast (which is a byproduct of beer making) causes a chemical reaction that completely changes the nutritional profile of the grain. I’m not an expert in it, so I’m not going to try to explain the science of it, but I do know that it doesn’t make my blood sugar spike, and it doesn’t give me that coma feeling. It is the way that bread has been made for as long as bread has been made, until the last 100 or so years. I took my class from Dr. Matt McClean and his wife Amy, who has a degree in nutrition (or something like that. I think she is an RD). This is their website. http://www.naturalleavening.com/ To me it was the missing piece. I knew that regular grains made me feel sick, but it has been a staple in so many diets throughout the millennia that I couldn’t understand how it could be this new demon of the nutritional world. Now I can eat bread (whole grain, naturally leavened) and it makes me feel good. I just believe in moderation. Not all vegetarian, not all meat, not all grains, not all fruits. I eat grass fed local meats, local raw milk, organic local produce (most of which I grow myself), full fat everything, and naturally leavened breads. I make most things from scratch. I buy very few packaged products (I have a real weakness for corn chips, but it feels so much more virtuous when I get the organic ones from Trader Joe’s. Practically a health food! :) )

    As for the school system and lunches, it’s appalling. My oldest three kids are kindergartners and I already know that I have signed up for a lifetime of packing lunches. My first rude awakening was when they were in pre-k and we were in charge of snack. I made banana bread with freshly ground organic spelt, organic bananas, far less sugar than most recipes call for, etc. Not to mention it was delicious. I was turned away at the door and told I had to go buy something packaged from the grocery store. It is a law here that you can’t bring anything homemade to schools to share with others. I went and got string cheese and raisins. You can’t even send cut up fresh fruit. It has to be individually packaged foods. Which meant that the other weeks when I wasn’t in charge my kids got such garbage as gogurts (beyond nasty), froot loops, oreos, etc., three times a week. On St. Patrick’s Day when they were supposed to bring their favorite green foods, my kids chose sugar snap peas, broccoli, pears and celery (my fourth is only a grade behind them so I had 4 in the same preschool). I gave them no promptings. They chose their own foods. The other kids brought green cookies and cupcakes full of artificial colorings and other awful things. I’m not saying that my kids never eat junk food. At gran’s house they eat sugary cereal to their heart’s content. On Halloween they eat candy. For their birthdays they get whatever cake they want. Our rule is 90/10. 90% of what they get is the best quality, nutrition and taste. The other 10% of the time they eat whatever, but it is usually part of a special occasion like a party or holiday. They also get a piece of candy from the karate and dance class teachers after each class, which I hate, but I let them eat it. But they also beg to have some of my veggie juices in the mornings. I’m not the food nazi bc I know that most of what they eat is great. They don’t watch TV during the week and never play video games. They run around outside and play and ride bikes and climb and play in the dirt as much of the day as they can. When they come in at the end of the day and I give them a kiss I tell them, “You taste like dirt!” and they are so proud! We all choose our battles. Some women keep immaculate houses, homeschool, have perfectly groomed children. The battle I’ve chosen is food. I put a lot of my time and effort into the food we eat. Ok that was longer than I intended.

  16. Morneau_for_4 says

    This is a great post. To beat candida, I am actually on a high fat (good fats), moderate protein, low carb (non-starchy veggies only for carbs). Real butter and coconut oil are simply amazing.

  17. Magdalen Dobson says

    I’m not a proponent of the no-grains, no-sugar diet for mainstream consumption, although I think that there’s sufficient evidence suggesting that it’s optimal for some people’s bodies. Personally, I am able to eat starches and sugars in moderation while feeling good about my body. I try to vary my grain consumption from just wheat–oats in the morning, whole wheat at lunch, and potatoes, couscous, or quinoa at dinner–and keep sweeteners mostly natural and only at breakfast and for afternoon snack. I eat tons of vegetables and get protein from dairy, eggs, nuts, and beans (I’m vegetarian), and it works really well for me.

  18. An Ordinary Housewife says

    When I was pregnant my doctor told me a good rule of thumb for a meal was: 1 fist-sized serving of protein, 1 fist-sized serving of starch and 2 fist-sized servings of produce (especially veggies), plus drink plenty of water. I think I have read this formula elsewhere as well. Honestly, I think this is a good suggestion for the mainstream, because it is easy to remember, takes 1/2 your nutrition from produce and is not extreme.

  19. William Norman says

    I know this article isn’t new, but I just stumbled upon it this morning. Two of the links that interested me are dead. What is the book by Gary Taubes? What was the video link?

    Thanks!

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