MyPlate Myths

MyPlate was launched in 2011 and over the years has increased in popularity. However, consumer knowledge gaps remain prevalent. This article hopes to help correct some of that misinformation.

MyPlate Myth: All Meals Should Be Eaten on a Plate

MyPlate is meant to be inspirational. It is meant to serve as a reminder to build balanced meals. An individual’s overall diet should be based on the food groups and incorporate a variety of healthy foods. It is not intended as a mandate to include all food groups at every meal, eat in a compartmentalized manner, or eat off of a specific sized plate.

An example of a healthy MyPlate inspired breakfast may include:

  • Oatmeal cooked in 1% milk, topped with sliced bananas and walnuts, and served in a bowl (four food groups: whole grains, dairy, fruit, and protein foods).

A MyPlate-inspired dinner may be:

  • A serving of veggie lasagna made with whole-grain noodles made with reduced-fat ricotta and mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce, spinach and mushrooms.

MyPlate Myth: No Snacks Allowed

Snacks are another area where you’re not likely to find all five food groups neatly arranged on a plate. When applying MyPlate to diets, snacks fit too. The website, ChooseMyPlate.gov, offers tips and recipes for creating balanced, MyPlate-inspired snacks. Dietetics practitioners can teach clients about healthy snacking and how snacks may help them meet their food group and nutrition goals.

MyPlate Myth: MyPlate is Fat Free

Although fats and oils are not considered a standalone food group, it is recommended consuming small amounts of oil for the essential nutrients they provide. ChooseMyPlate.gov encourages consumers to focus on polyunsaturated (PUFA) or monounsaturated (MUFA) fats and to reduce consumption of solid fats (saturated fats and trans fats), which can contribute a high amount of empty calories to the diet.

  • Foods Rich in PUFA include: Flax, peanut, sesame, canola, soybean, walnut oil, eggs, fish include bluefish, eel, halibut, salmon, tuna and sardines.

  • Foods rich in MUFA include: Avocado, olives, nuts and seeds like almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, and pecans, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds.

  • Foods contain saturated fats and trans fat include: Hydrogenated oil (palm, coconut oil), dried coconut, butter, rendered animal fats, dark chocolate, cheese, processed meats (sausage and pate), whipped cream, French fries, pie, shortening, ice cream, fried chicken, cookies, doughnuts, microwave popcorn, crackers, frozen dinners

MyPlate Myth: Protein Foods=Meat

Protein is available in a variety of foods. All foods made from meat, poultry, seafood, beans and peas, eggs, soy products, nuts, and seeds are considered part of the protein Foods Group. In addition, ChooseMyPlate.gov offers advice for vegetarian and vegan consumers who choose not to eat meat.

MyPlate was designed to remind Americans to eat healthfully; it was not intended to change consumer behavior alone.

References

Haven J, Maniscalco S, Bard Sasha, & Ciampo M. (May 2014).

MyPlate Myths Debunked. JAND 114 (5):674-675.

By Sophia Li

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