USDAs New Food Pyramid – My Plate – Misses the Mark

Have you seen the USDA’s new take on the Food Pyramid, called My Plate?

I certainly think it is better than the pyramid (below top) and the recent sideways pyramid (below bottom) that was indescribably confusing.  The plate in particular is such a good way to visualize healthy eating as it can be implemented easily at the dinner table.

HOWEVER, Dairy?  It just doesn’t fit.  Dairy is not a nutrient category like protein, grains (carbs), fruits and veggies.  It seems like maybe the Dairy industry had some pull?  I’m not anti dairy or anything but Dairy is primarily PROTEIN from a nutritional perspective (and fat, see below).  The food pyramid has long been plagued by corporate interests that make its authority suspect so I was disappointed to see the Dairy lobby still influencing what should be a purely scientific process.

What else is missing???  FATS! Seriously?  Fats are a vital part of the human diet! The vilification of fats in the media shows signs of ending so I’m disappointed that the USDA didn’t take this chance to let people know about good fats.  I mean they talk about “whole” grains so if they had a small circle of fat they could also have introduced recommended fats.  For example like this visualization called the “Cruise Down Plate” because it is part of the Jorge Cruise 3 Hour Diet (I am NOT recommending this diet, just pointing out the importance of fats in his graphic).

The human body NEEDS FATS to survive (see On The Nature And Rôle Of The Fatty Acids Essential In Nutrition)!  The right fats can lower cholesterol, stabilize blood sugar, play an important role in cognitive development, and even reduce the risk of heart attack.  The ongoing “war” against fat and push for “low fat diets” has resulted in an unhealthier society.  The new USDA food guidelines simply can not be considered to represent the best of what science has to offer when it leaves out fats.  To me this makes the whole thing suspect.

The way that diet and nutrition (and fat-blaming) are taught in elementary schools is becoming one of my reasons for homeschooling (I didn’t really need another reason but there it is).  I would NOT allow my child to be taught these erroneous ideas about food that will only serve to take her further from her natural state of intuitive eating.  By breaking down food choices into “good” and “bad” children are set up for a lifetime of negative eating behaviors and self-esteem problems.  When, in fact, children are born intuitively knowing how to eat and what to eat by following their body’s own cues of hunger, satiety, taste, and craving.  This is why food should never be used as punishment or reward (which is two of the tips to raise Size-Accepting Children).  Unfortunately, the USDA food guidelines, and now this new My Plate set the standard for nutrition curriculum.  It is too bad they didn’t get it right.

What are your thoughts on the new USDA Food Guidelines?


8 thoughts on “USDAs New Food Pyramid – My Plate – Misses the Mark

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  2. Hi Paige!

    So I’m totally with you that these food guides implemented by the USDA are jack. Recently wrote a post on it myself.

    The thing about dairy is that it can vary widely in macronutrients depending on what type of dairy. Butter, all fat. Skim milk is half carb, half protein. Cheese is mainly fat and protein. Whole milk is a fairly even mix of the three macronutrients. I think what they are pushing here is calcium consumption.

    I would love to see them come out with a food guide that included healthy fats, not as something to be used “sparingly” but perhaps in moderation. But then, they think polyunsaturated fats are healthy, and they are not.

    Another problem with these food guides is that they are carb heavy. The “my plate” is about 50% carbs. That’s actually better than the pyramid which, depending on your food choices can amount to a lot more carbs than that. Also, it should say “whole grains” not just grains.

    And yet another problem I have with this is that it assumes everyone has the same nutritional needs which is completely erroneous. Maybe they are trying to make it simple for everyone, but I don’t know…it may just be too simple to benefit everyone.

    I had thought of drawing up my own food guide pyramid based on what I think I should eat, but then I realized that my needs change daily and seasonally. If I can’t even draw up my own food guide, how can the USDA draw one up for everyone in the country?

    I’d love to see a push for real foods, whole foods, raw foods, and traditional foods (meaning before the advent of food processing). That would be the greatest step toward improving the health of our country…but who would make money off of that??


  3. Pingback: Trusting Her Food Choices « miniMOMist

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