Michelle Obama: Fill Half Your Plate With Fruits/Veggies

Last Updated Jun 2, 2011 11:30 AM EDT

Today, First Lady Michelle Obama drop kicked the old food pyramid and unveiled a new symbol--a plate--to guide Americans in how much of each food group to eat. It's about time. To be sure, it was hard to apply the abstract food pyramid when shopping or preparing a meal. But with the new symbol, it will be hard to ignore. The message is as clear as a child's plate with dividers.

Fill half of it with fruits and vegetables. The plate symbol contains four colored sections--red, green, orange, and purple for fruits, vegetables, grains and protein respectively. Fruits and vegetables take up half the plate. No getting around it. If your meat and grains creep across the midway point, you're eating too few fruits and veggies. As you can see in the photo, vegetables and grains are the larger wedges, fruits and proteins, smaller. Beside the plate is a small circle for dairy--a glass of milk or a cup of yogurt perhaps.
"For many years, we've used the pyramid as a symbol. The reality is that it's too complex to serve as a quick and easy guide for busy American families," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack at a press conference this morning. Mrs. Obama added, "We're all bombarded by so many dietary messages, it's hard to find time to sort through all this information. When it comes to eating, what's more simple than a plate?" she said.

Go to choosemyplate.gov, the new USDA website devoted to this icon. Print it out, take it with you, eyeball your food, and you're done. The plate is a simplified version of the government's latest dietary guidelines, which were released in January.

Dr. David Kessler, former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration told the Times, "The reality is that very few of us eat like what has been suggested" by the government. "There's a world of difference between what's being served and what's on that plate," he said referring to the new plate symbol.

What do you think of the new plate icon?
Related:
Laurie Tarkan is an award-winning health journalist who writes for the New York Times, national magazines and websites. Follow her on twitter.
photo courtesy of USDAgov
  • Laurie Tarkan

    Laurie Tarkan is an award-winning health journalist who writes for The New York Times and many national magazines. She is a contributing editor at Fit Pregnancy magazine and the author of three books, Perfect Hormone Balance for Fertility, Perfect Hormone Balance for Pregnancy and My Mother's Breast: Daughters Ace Their Mothers' Cancer.. You can follow her on Twitter at @LaurieTarkan.

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