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Clean dinner plate replaces food pyramid

Experts weigh in on government's new dietary guidelines

POSTED: June 4, 2011 12:38 a.m.

The food pyramids that helped a generation of kids learn how to eat balanced diets are no more.

In their place is something simpler and more relatable: a dinner plate.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture unveiled the new nutrition image, called MyPlate, on Thursday.

"I think it's wonderful, especially compared to the MyPyramid," said Tiffany Lommel, Gainesville City Schools nutrition director. "It's really easy to visualize the concept."

MyPlate features four colored areas - representing protein, fruits, vegetables and grains - on a white dinner plate, with a colored cup to represent dairy products.

"The message is that no one food or food group has all the nutrients we need," Connie Crawley, UGA Extension
food, nutrition and health specialist, wrote in an email to The Times. "It also gives a rough estimate about how much of each food group we should consume."

The image advises people to eat smaller portions, reduce sodium intake, drink water and low-fat or fat-free milk and increase intake of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

"This is a lot more user-friendly," Hall County Schools Nutrition Coordinator Jennifer Teems said. "It's easy for kids to look at and say, ‘This is what should be on my plate.'"

Teems said the only thing she would change on MyPlate was to feature pictures of food.

"It is not perfect of course, because it doesn't handle mixed foods, but it is better than the pyramid," Crawley said. "I wish it gave a size for the plate. Most dinner plates are huge now and may result in overeating."

Both Hall County and Gainesville systems have menus in place that follow the guidelines recommended by the USDA and MyPlate.

Friendship Elementary will be taking MyPlate a bit further when classes start in the fall, as it will be starting as a wellness school.

Principal Berry Walton said MyPlate will help students realize the school's mission of reducing childhood obesity and improving academic achievement.

"I like the new concept. It seems to be more relevant to families," Walton said. "You can just have a better mental picture of what to expect in a balanced meal."



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