I’ve had the opportunity to think about the new USDA MyPlate icon. I saw it a couple of weeks ago and again when it was released to the public. At first I didn’t appreciate how it would succeed in committing people who eat on the run to consider the message of balance and portion control. However, I now appreciate that a change was needed and using a plate may actually help people to reflect on their eating habits.
Like the Food Guide Pyramid which morphed into the MyPyramid, the shape did not instruct one on how to construct a meal. The pyramid focused on the concept of a daily intake which resonated only within the dietetics world. A public communication tool should relate to nutrition on a meal basis which is why a plate is more appropriate. My concern is that we have stopped eating on plates. Perhaps seeing our meals laid out, so we get a visual of portion adequacy, will help us to tame the out of control eating patterns we’ve developed. Too many times our meals are consumed in a cup or from a bag while in a car or at a desk.
When I asked Dr. Robert Post who directed the MyPlate.gov launch, how the public would be able to use this plate concept when they eat on the run, his response was that it is meant to be a reminder. An icon which reminds people that foods need to fit into a meal pattern and when accompanied by a relevant message which doesn’t grow stale, it can educate. He also pointed out that the icon is just a tool which directs one to the website where there is a wealth of information waiting to be accessed. In my humble opinion, this is a great improvement and a major step in the right direction. It will be interesting to see how well the tool communicates the desired messages.
To learn more about the new MyPlate icon: