My Plate: By Michelle Obama
Instead of trying to navigate a food pyramid which has been criticized as being too complicated and overloaded with information; it was time for an update according to the USDA. The food plate, which shows simply how to divide up protein, vegetables, grains and fruit (with a place for dairy on the side, out of the plate), is just way easier. According to USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion Robert Post, “it’s grabbing the consumers’ attention that we are after this time, not making it so complicated that perhaps it is a turnoff. There is something really inviting about this familiar setting for meal time.” So why would it be more beneficial for those trying to battle the bulge? First, the simplicity of it: it’s just a regular round plate showing how easy nutrition can be, divided into four sections, so it looks a bit like a pie. Michelle Obama believes this plate will provide a “simple reminder for all of us to be more mindful of the foods we’re eating.”
According to plate and website developer Post, the plate is meant to be “more artistic and attractive” to diners, providing a “visual cue” for them. It is out with old and in with the new; no more references to fats/oils but just positive words. The blue circle for dairy indicates a glass of milk, portion of cheese or yogurt.
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Of course, My Plate has not gone down all that well in all circles. According to Harvard University Nutrition department chairman Walter Willett, the plate is hardly ideal since it doesn’t inform users of which foods are good and which are bad, nutrition-wise. According to Willett therefore, more information is needed such as what type of grains you are choosing (whole grains have a very different nutritional benefit than refined grains). Proteins have the same issue and the dairy circle is totally problematic, as if people think the additional protein in the dairy segment should be at every meal, then this is wrong.
Clearly the Obamas themselves were having difficulties with My Plate too. Just one day after the First Lady unveiled the plate, hubby was seen wolfing down a hot dog. Perhaps Barrack was out on a prior engagement that day and hadn’t seen My Plate. Michelle herself said it is severely limited since it shows no indication for the addition of exercise which the pyramid does. So there is still work to be done on the Plate.