Posted by Patrick Maness
June 2, 2011, will be remembered as the day the great pyramid finally fell apart. Not the 4,000-year-old pyramid in Egypt, mind you, but rather the more familiar pyramid most of us saw almost every day growing up: The food pyramid.
You see, in 2011 the USDA replaced the food pyramid with the food circle and glass representation known as MyPlate. On the surface, the model is a pie chart that provides information on what portions sizes make up a balanced diet.
But MyPlate is more than just a way to display information. The chart is a part of a larger nutritional program sweeping across the country.
The MyPlate food guide in schools
At its heart, the MyPlate food guide is placed in schools in order to promote healthy eating habits at a young age.
Now, the naïve way to do this would be to serve only broiled whitefish on a bed of kale with a side of kombucha. MyPlate guidelines, however, acknowledge that it takes time to develop good eating habits; rather than force healthy food on unwilling students, the MyPlate program advises introducing small changes into their diet.
Variety has, fortunately, helped move the idea along. By offering students a variety of greens, fruits and proteins, it's more likely they will find something they like. The hope is that these nutritional food choices will lead them to eat other similar foods.
In addition to guiding kids to eat the right foods, MyPlate helps them learn how to appropriately portion their meals. The goal is to raise awareness of the importance of eating vegetables, fruit and protein with each meal, and to get into the habit of eating until you are satisfied, not stuffed.
How schools use it
Schools across the country use MyPlate as a resource to guide administrators and students toward making healthy, nutritious choices.
The website boasts numerous online tools such as a daily checklist, a BMI calculator, a SuperTracker classroom that individual students can use to track their physical activity and eating habits, plus even more.
All in all, MyPlate is more than a pie chart of nutritional suggestions. It’s part of a holistic approach that includes classroom education, physical activity and proper diet to raise a healthier generation of schoolchildren.
Read other articles in this series: