The USDA has unveiled it’s new food logo. The new symbol is uncomplicated. Half the plate contains fruit and veggies. The other half holds grains and protein. That’s certainly easy enough to remember.
The new icon is to serve as a reminder to make healthier food choices. The plate is a quick, simple visual to be mindful of the foods we are eating. I believe this is a more user-friendly image than the 20-year-old MyPryamid image it replaces.
Logan doesn’t know why there’s so much fuss about the new food icon. He just likes to eat.
First Lady Michelle Obama said regarding the new image, “When mom or dad comes home from a long day of work, we’re already asked to be a chef, a referee, a cleaning crew. So it’s tough to be a nutritionist, too. But we do have time to take a look at our kids’ plates. As long as they’re half full of fruits and vegetables, and paired with lean proteins, whole grains and low-fat dairy, we’re golden. That’s how easy it is.”
These are the recommendations for MyPlate at ChooseMyPlate.gov:
• Enjoy your food, but eat less.
• Avoid over-sized portions.
Foods to Increase
• Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
• Make at least half your grains whole grains.
• Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.
Foods to Reduce
• Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals and choose the foods with lower numbers.
• Drink water instead of sugary drinks.
Americans are being urged to eat more plant-based foods with the new icon. This is great! Although MyPlate is an improvement over the old food pyramid, I have some concerns about the government site. As easy to understand as the plate icon is, people could use additional information, especially for those who regularly consume processed foods. In my estimation, ChooseMyPlate.com comes up short in the nutrition department.
Problem #1 — Point of Purchase
Michelle Obama says it’s difficult to determine the best foods to put on our kids’ plates. I really don’t believe it’s so difficult. What’s the real challenge for most families is the food they purchase. Families are starting out with a deficit. Ninety percent of the food purchased in grocery stores is highly processed. In addition, families eat out at fast food restaurants 2 or 3 times a week. If you’re eating out, the plate icon is useless and you can forget trying to figure out what’s in the food. A Whole Foods Grocery List would be helpful, don’t you think?
Problem #2 — Processed Food Nutrition Label
The second problem is related to the first. It takes a rocket scientist to figure out what’s in the processed food purchased at the grocers. The labels are really an oxymoron. Processed foods take out nutrition and then add back in synthetic vitamins. You have to read and then decipher the labels. Sodium and sugars are high in processed foods. Ingredients like MSG can be impossible to find, as it’s not required to be listed as MSG. For more about MSG Click Here.
It’s much easier to know what’s in the food when you actually cook whole foods from scratch yourself. I think the new guidelines should encourage cooking at home, not “choose frozen meals with lower numbers.” Cooking at home with whole foods is the only way to know your family is getting the nutrition they need.
Problem #3 — Fuzzy Government Recommendations
The recommendations on the government site aren’t always the most beneficial. Why do they suggest half of the carbs consumed should come from whole grains? Why only half? Isn’t the preferred goal to consume ALL whole grains. It make mores sense to make simple carbs the exception, not half of consumed grains! The assumption is that people will not really change their eating patterns.
The recommendation to switch to 1 percent or low fat milk is predicable, but not backed by science. What’s that? We’ve been told for so long that low-fat milk is healthier. We don’t even stop to consider that information may be incorrect. Whole milk doesn’t make kids fat. Sugar, simple carbs and altered fats do. For more information on whole milk Click Here.
Speaking of altered fats, where the info on trans fat? I had a hard time locating the teeny bit information offered. Then they lump naturally saturated fats with man-made trans fat. Information on Interesterified fat is is absent! For more about altered fats Click Here.
All-in-all, I think the new logo is an improvement, but am very disappointed in the nutritional information the government provides parents.