Does your dinner plate look like this?

The food pyramid is out, and a new dinner plate is in. In Washington today, First Lady Michelle Obama and other top officials unveiled the government’s new food icon, called “MyPlate,” to help Americans make healthier eating decisions.

MyPlate (below) emphasizes that half of each meal should be fruits and vegetables. It replaces the more convoluted food pyramid that the government had long used as a nutritional guide for consumers.

MyPlate is an uncomplicated symbol to help remind people to think about their food choices in order to lead healthier lifestyles,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in a statement this morning. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is also scheduled to unveil an online tool later this year that consumers can use “to personalize and manage” their dietary and exercise habits.

The new icon comes as part of a broader nutrition education program, including Michelle Obama’s emphasis on reducing childhood obesity. The basic messages of the USDA campaign are:

  • Enjoy your food, but eat less.
  • Avoid oversized portions.
  • Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
  • Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.
  • Make at least half your grains whole grains
  • Compare sodium (salt) in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals, and choose foods with lower numbers.
  • Drink water instead of sugary drinks.

my plate