The new “MyPlate” icon is split into four sections: red for fruits, green for vegetables, orange for grains, and purple for protein. There is also a separate blue section for dairy on the side.

The new plate icon is easier to understand than the old pyramid guideline, said Nancy C. Kuppersmith, a nutritionist with UofL Physicians-Family & Geriatric Medicine. It’s a new approach that encourages healthy behavior, rather than simply providing information.

MyPlate makes it clear that fruits and veggies should make up half of your meal, with protein as the smallest part of the plate. The grain portion is a bit larger and still advises people to “make half your grains whole.”

“The new MyPlate guideline is an easy-to-understand five-part diagram of what makes up a healthy meal,” said Kuppersmith. “It’s a great reminder of the essential ingredients needed for a nutritious meal, whether you’re grocery shopping, packing lunches or cooking your family’s dinner.”

Other Guidelines

Reduce calorie intake through portion control: mega portions can turn into mega pounds.

Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk: Fat-free and low-fat milk have the same amount of protein, vitamins, calcium and other minerals as higher-fat milks, but with fewer calories and less saturated fat.

Check the sodium in prepared foods: Excess sodium in the diet is linked to high blood pressure. No adult or child should eat more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day, and many adults may need less.

  • Drink water instead of sugary drinks: Soda, energy drinks and sports drinks are major sources of added sugar and calories in our diets, and they offer nothing in the way of nutrition. Sugary beverages often contribute calories that kids and adults alike don’t need.

Editor’s Note: UofL Today reprints To Your Health articles from the “UofL Physicians-Insider” newsletter. Read the entire March Issue (opens as a PDF document).