Say goodbye to the old food pyramid and make way for the new plate. On June 2 of this year the United States government unveiled its new icon to represent healthy eating for most Americans, ChooseMyPlate. This new icon is intended to replace the old MyPyramid icon in an effort to better educate people about portions sizes and food groups, which will help Americans make better food choices, leading to improved national health.

Every five years the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reviews and puts together a new set of Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The new ChooseMyPlate goes along with the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which focuses on two main concepts:

  1. Maintain calorie balance over time to achieve and sustain a healthy weight.
  2. Focus on consuming nutrient-dense foods and beverages.

ChooseMyPlate corresponds nicely with these recommendations, reminding consumers to eat healthfully by focusing on reducing portion sizes to cut calories, which will help achieve and maintain a healthy body weight. When explored online, each portion of the plate is linked to a section of the web site that directs consumers on what is included in each food group and how much of this group should be eaten daily or weekly.

The web site also highlights several key behaviors, based off of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines:

  1. Enjoy your food, but eat less
  2. Avoid oversized portions
  3. Make half your plate fruits and vegetables
  4. Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk
  5. Make at least half of your grains whole grains
  6. Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread and frozen meals and choose foods with the lower numbers
  7. Drink water instead of sugary drinks

There is also a Top Ten series of educational materials available on the web site intended to give consumers more direction in how to increase fruits and vegetables, how to reduce sodium, how to teach healthy eating habits to children and much more. Healthy recipes are also included on the web site.

For an average healthy person trying to lose weight or just trying to broaden his or her food choices, ChooseMyPlate is a great place to start. Many registered dietitians have been using the plate method for years to teach large groups or individuals how to eat healthier, however, more specific recommendations can be obtained from a registered dietitian to help fine tune a weight loss diet.

Other specific populations such as those with chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease or kidney disease should use caution when viewing the plate. People within this population should refer to a registered dietitian for more specific recommendations on how to follow a healthy diet while managing his or her chronic disease.

To check out the new ChooseMyPlate web site, visit:

To set up an individual appointment or to join the new "Nutrition Lecture Series" with EJGH Wellness Center's Dietitian, Rebecca Lee, RD, LDN, call: (504) 849-6801 or e-mail: