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USDA Unveils New, Simple Tips to Stay Healthy, Active and Fit

Posted by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in Initiatives Food and Nutrition
Feb 21, 2017

Today was an exciting day at USDA as I was joined by First Lady Michelle Obama and Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin to unveil USDA's new food icon, MyPlate. The icon is a departure from MyPyramid and serves as a quick, simple reminder to all consumers, built off of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for all Americans.

We all know that what we eat matters - MyPlate offers a visual reminder to make healthy food choices when you choose your next meal. MyPlate can help prioritize food choices by reminding us to make half of our plate fruits and vegetables and shows us the other important food groups for a well-balanced meal: whole grains, lean proteins, and low fat dairy.

We want to see where and when you think about healthy eating. Join us in Take the Plate.  Print MyPlate or display on a mobile device and snap a photograph to show how and where you choose the best foods to put on your plates when building a healthy meal.
Visit for practical information to individuals, health professionals, nutrition educators, and the food industry to help consumers build healthier diets with resources and tools for dietary assessment, nutrition education, and other user-friendly nutrition information.

Today’s announcement was a monumental step forward for consumers and partners, as well. It was a pleasure to be joined by leaders from the Food Marketing Institute, United Fresh Produce Association, Mission Readiness representative Lieutenant General Norman R. Seip (Ret.) and Chef Marcus Samuelson, all committed to making a positive change in our nation’s health.

MyPlate is only the first step in a multi-year effort to raise awareness and educate consumers of every age. We’ll continue working closely with First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative and other stakeholders to deliver tips and information necessary to adopt healthier eating habits balanced with physical activity.

Head over to for information, tools, “how-to” materials about healthy eating. While you’re there, check out the interactive tools like the customizable Daily Food Plan or Food Tracker. We hope that MyPlate becomes your plate in the months and years ahead. We’d love to see what’s on your plate so snap a photo of your next meal and share with us on Twitter using the hashtag #MyPlate.

If you missed the event today, check out this video announcing the new food icon, MyPlate:

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Jun 02, 2011

The mocking bit is most important...this icon business be it a triangle or circle is a waste of USDA resources ...time and expense...stick with stamping meat and choice, prime or grade A designations..SIMPLE...the USDA plate is a wasted opportunity

Jun 02, 2011

Moving bit....I meant not mocking

Pat Bebo
Jun 02, 2011

I am dissappointed and angry with this change. To abandon an ikon that may not have been perfect but that has been a teaching tool for over 5 years is beyond my understanding. The plate could have been used to enhance and clarify the MyPyramid message. There is no pictoral representation of physical activity, no clear message of portion or healthy selection, no inclusion of water. Most Americans do not include all of these food groups at each meal therefore they will not eat this way so it doesn't speak to them. I am not one of the academic experts on the issue, I am however a community expert and I have spent years crafting a message that utilizes the pyramid as a teaching tool. This was a lost opportunity to make something better and USDA missed it.

Jessica Wilcox
Jun 02, 2011

I am also very disappointed. I do not drink DAIRY milk, I am unable too. I feel that others who cannot drink DAIRY milk will not understand that their choices like soy milk or almond milk are still ok. I also find it wrong to say protein. Many people would think that a protein shake would be ok or anything that has protein in it. Not that you are looking for foods that are higher in protein. I am also upset that this plate may seem like every meal during your day must include all of the groups on the plate not that a fruit or vegetable serving for the day could come from a snack. Many people eat 6 small meals a day, should all 6 of those meals look like this? I teach nutrition to elememtary school students and I feel that this will be more difficult for them to understand. If the plate was in conjunction with the pyramid I think it would have been much more useful and productive.

María Urbina Rivas, LND
Jun 02, 2011


Jun 02, 2011

I like it, it's nice and simple and a better visualization tool. I never quite got the pyramid.

Randy Clemens
Jun 02, 2011

@Jessica: This is what you get when lobbyists have their way! Meat and milk at every meal. Do what I do, ignore government recommendations! Look how well they've been working out for us so far...

Garden Guy
Jun 02, 2011

This is so simple it may actually work. Some of the comments above make no sense to me though. "To abandon an ikon that may not have been perfect but that has been a teaching tool for over 5 years is beyond my understanding." I guess you can't understand an atiquated and often misused concept being tossed out? The pieces on the plate represent the amounts you should eat. Model your plate not your servings. If you eat this plate three times a day you will get your "reccomended servings". Hard to understand?

Jun 02, 2011

It's time for a healthier change in how & what we eat these day. I like the "New Food Icon"!!!

Jun 02, 2011

Plate or pyramid, I still can't figure out why school children are given a dessert on their tray every day of the school year. My district says that they like to include a sweet to trigger a "full" response at the end of the meal. Unfortunately, I observe elementary and preschool students eat their cookie or cake FIRST, followed by "dumping" most of the rest of their food.

Jun 02, 2011

What a pity that the new USDA My Plate still promotes dairy products as though they are healthy. And what a pity that the vegetables, fruits and grains that the My Plate suggests should make up 3/4ths of the food intake, receive less than 23% of government agricultural subsidies. Let's see some real change - not just in encouraging people to eat more grains, more vegetables and more fruits, but in helping people to afford those healthy foods and avoid the unhealthy meat and dairy foods. Limit or drop subsidies to the heart-stressing foods, and ensure that grains and veggies and fruit are affordable.

78% of government subsidies go to meat, dairy and fats, sugars and alcohol. Can anyone tell me how that makes sense?

Actually the lobbyists for the dairy and meat industry could tell you the answer. Millions of dollars in contributions, and a campaign to hide the suffering and the pollution caused by the meat and dairy industries.

Jun 02, 2011

I love it! Easy to understand. I'm definitely going to teach it to my 6 yr grandaugter. I'd like for her to start early eating right. I can't believe the comments that people are upset because they don't want the govt to tell them to eat healthy..the prez and first lady can't win for losing with these people.

Jun 02, 2011

The plate is a terrific idea, no measuring, weighing, counting, etc. It is the old school 'colorful plate' concept children and adults (with IQs higher than 15 or 20--leaving out the Republican party) can easily replicate. The pyramid isn't wrong or a problem, this is just so KISS (the last S is once again for Republicans)!
Thank you First Lady for making health and wellness a top priority for our children. Sorry the party of No doesn't value children or families.

Jun 03, 2011

The word that comes to mind to describe this change from the food pyramid to the my plate is....GENIOUS! The food pyramid was more complicated than it needed to be. Come on, people. Who can't appreciate the fact that this new visual simplifies things for the average family. Now as a mother I can look at my child's plate of food and compare it to the "recommended" portion sizes on the my plate visual. Simple. I don't have time to measure whether I have a certain percentage of protein or whatever. Do you?! My 9 and 4 year old sons can figure this one out! The pyramid statistically has not worked in the past. Kudos to Michelle Obama and all who are involved in making necessary changes to assist Americans toward a healthier lifestyle.

Jun 03, 2011

Thanks for the pictoral. The problem I had was in portion size and this will help make it easy to know how much of each type of food to eat at a time. I also love the colors, because my diabetes coach taught to make your plate have different colors of food to be healthy, so this is a reminder. MUCH easier than a pyramid -- who eats off of pyramids? (Never got that whole idea). It's good to have a website dedicated to teaching healthy eating habits.

pat bebo
Jun 03, 2011

What I am hearing from many comments is that you will use it as a tool- agreed it is only a tool but it lacks information about variety, healthy fats and oils, and exercise. The public at least was aware of mypyramid and if the plate was added as an adjunct to the information given with mypyramid then it would go a long way to strengthening that message. So let's say you are an average busy American that isn't motivated to change. What would fit in this plate as pictured? A large french fry -works for the vegetable, maybe a cherry pie - yep that has fruit, a cheese burger ( protein, dairy and grain) and a glass of milk. That would do it and no mention of portion so make it two cheeseburgers. That's the reality in communities, that's the reality of many eating behaviors. Think more in general terms based on consumption surveys done by the USDA, think of urban environments. The plate is simple but only if there is education behind it - we used the concept of Go, Slow, Whoa to teach variety, moderation and smart choices, we actually use a plate idea after teaching the selection concept so it definitely works but I feel they threw out something that they have invested a lot of time and money in and wasn't all that bad to use as a teaching tool. And for Flo go back and challenge your district on the dessert idea - a piece of fruit should be the sweet treat - not a cookie. Challenge them and get involved change can defintely happen when parents push back. The new guidelines on school meals will help but you should definitely push harder for the removal of a "sweet" treat on the lunch plate.

Jun 04, 2011

If you want to eat healthy, DO NOT FOLLOW NUTRITIONAL ADVICE FROM THE GOVERNMENT. The pyramid was TERRIBLE nutritionally, and this plate isn't much better. There's no reason at all to have milk with every meal (actually unnecessary for any meal and some nutritionists say we shouldn't drink milk at all). The big grain portion with every meal is a HORRIBLE recommendation unless you are an endurance athlete. Americans eat WAY too many starches which definitely should be limited (This plays a huge factor in why obesity and diabetes is at an all time high in the U.S.). The protein portion could definitely be bigger as long as people are getting it from the right sources (Limit red meat as it is high in saturated fat). And where are the healthy fats? The problem is that there's a conflict of interest. People that work for the food industry should not be making government nutritional recommendations. Folks, if you want to eat healthy, seek the advice of experts (which does not include the government), because the ideal diet will vary for different individuals. They are obviously targeting average individuals that get little to no exercise, but this is a terrible nutritional plan for just about anybody.

Jun 05, 2011

Love the new plate! It is simple enough for my six year old to get the message. It has helped us prioritize food choices already! I can't wait to use it more and customize it for our life.

Jun 06, 2011

Where the heck is the chocolate segment?!

Jun 07, 2011

I have to say, I like the visual concept of a plate as a portion-teaching tool. However, I agree with those who said the proportions are off. We don't need all that much dairy - what about water? I'm glad oils and sugars are off the picture though - oils and sugars are in everything whether natural or processed, so we rarely need to add them.

Jun 08, 2011

Not impressed. At the least, the old pyramid would at least give relative proportions of what's healthy. There's no specific mention of how much protein is a portion. This is just a brightly done piece of inanity. And what's with the dairy? It's not necessary for a healthy life. The USDA just can't get it right. They just fix what wasn't broken in the first place. No Luddite here--but when they abandoned the pyramid and turned it into a staircase they lost me. They missed the chance to really move the emphasis from meat and milk to a more vegetable and grain set of choices. Where do you include the healthy fats and oils? Each portion of the food groups is equal! That doesn't tell anyone how much to eat to be healthy. I give up. I'll be waiting around for when the USDA starts goosing this latest version. They're already so slapped around by the factory farming lobby I won't be surprised to see fruits, grains, and vegetables squeezed down into a forlorn little slice while meat and dairy have their way with us.

Jun 09, 2011

I am very impressed. I have been following the rule that half of your plate should be fruits/vegetables, 1/4 protein and 1/4 grains with a small amount of dairy for a while now, and have lost 75lbs by doing so. The pyramid was great for explaining how much of each food we need daily, but I think that the plate will make it much easier for children to understand. You can tell someone that they need x number of servings of something, but seeing it so clearly demonstrated is another way to insure that it is put in to practice.

Jun 17, 2011

The MyPlate is a great tool and much easier to understand! I have been a personal trainer for over 20 years. Nutrition and lifestyle changes are the hardest obstacles for clients to overcome. I have counseled over 15 clients in the past two weeks using "MyPlate" and they ALL understood how to make changes in their nutrition after the counseling sessions PLUS they have began experiencing lifestyle changes which will lead to weight loss & better health. I have never had the immediate positive results with clients in the past using the Food Guide Pyramid as I have had using "MyPlate". I feel that because "MyPlate" keeps it simple, it will be much easier for individuals to adopt the healthy lifestyle changes to lose weight & be healthy - once they begin to feel better, they will be more interested in learning more about nutrition and a healthy lifestyle.

Aliya Hussaini M.D.
Jun 30, 2011

Like most government-sponsored graphical representations of dietary recommendations that have come out since the government first introduced the World War II-era food wheel, MyPlate has immediately become a magnet for criticism and political debate. MyPlate is not perfect. But it provides us with something that we can digest, that makes sense and that transmits useful information so we can make smarter decisions without paralyzing us by forcing us to drink from a fire hose of information. Most of us are completely off track when it comes to understanding what elements make a healthy meal—we need to start somewhere.

Dec 01, 2011

For over two years my servings have been 1/2 half fruits/vegetables, 1/4 protein and 1/4 grains with a small amount of dairy. I weigh myself once a week and now am down 42 pounds in 1 1/2 years. I see that the above meal portion is now called the plate. My grandmother raised me with the method and it is just fine.

Judy Jolley RN
Nov 14, 2012

I work at a residential facility with kids 7-17 years. Many of the kids are concerned about weight and I would love to have about 12 more posters for our houses. Is this possible? Thanks and I like the new Choose My Plate, as well as the kids.Judy Jolley RN

James Murray
Apr 15, 2013

This program is one that needs to be expanded to include those meals that are being made available to kids at all schools especially those in the low economic income areas where the schools districts struggle to make ends meet and where in some cases of 96% of the student attending these schools qualify for free or low cost meals. In many of these areas this program would dramatically help improve the quality and variety of the meals being offered making them more appealing and healthy. In many of these school districts they rely on ever decreasing funding to provide the food for these children which leads them to select foods that are often prepackaged with little variety and variation in the choices they offer. This in-turn results in our children often not eating well, skipping meals, and an increased waste of food products. Having seen this first hand in a number of the local schools it is hard to believe that this program cannot make the difference necessary to improve this process and the health of our children both mentally and physically. I have also seen how this can affect productivity and moral in the military so implementing this program is vital to the health and welfare of our children and our nation as a whole.

Elena Swinger
Oct 29, 2013

You are right, the food served in schools is a big problem not only in US but all over the World, it seems like they don`t care, nobody care. In many cases parents don`t care what their kids are eating in school. It`s very important to educate kids about healthy eating and avoid to sell scam food there also.

Mar 13, 2019

why is everyone triggered with this change tf... it just changed a triangle to a circle...

leslie a shefka
Oct 28, 2021

this is what i use