MyPlate was launched in 2011 as a new tool for consumers to use to help them eat healthier and create more balanced meals. The design uses a plate to designate the different food groups rather than a pyramid since Americans are more familiar with eating off a plate. Dietetic professionals use MyPlate to help educate their clients on how to create balanced meals and help them understand the importance of living a healthy lifestyle. However, there has been some confusion on certain aspects of the nutrition tool.
One misconception is that all meals need to be eaten on a plate and follow the template. MyPlate was created because of the familiarity of the plate, but it is understood that not all meals are eaten on a plate or even at a table every day. MyPlate was designed to help explain the components of a meal that should be taken into consideration when building your meal. Not all food groups have to be accounted for at every meal either. Dietetic professionals are helpful in showing how mixed dishes and casseroles can fit into the MyPlate template as well since they contain many food groups rather than having each separate on the plate.
Another misconception is that MyPlate does not allow snacks. Snacking is encouraged to satisfy hunger between meals and to show how to create healthy snacks as well. Snacks probably won’t follow the template of each food group on the plate either, but using MyPlate, snacks can remain healthy and balanced just like regular meals.
Since MyPlate does not have a designated food group for fats and oils, this can be confusing as well. However, MyPlate encourages the use of healthy fats like polyunsaturated (PUFA) and mono-unsaturated (MUFA) fats in creating healthy meals. Examples include olive oil, nuts, and avocado.
The final misconception is the use of the “protein” food group rather than “meat and beans” food group. It is important to realize that protein sources come from many different foods rather than just meat and bean products. There are many vegetarian sources of protein including food made from soy, nuts, and seeds.
To fully understand the MyPlate tool, it's beneficial to work with dietetic professionals to create balanced meals and create a healthy lifestyle to follow. Dietetics professionals can help clear up any confusion regarding MyPlate and help break down combination foods into each food group.
Haven, J., Maniscalco, S., Bard, S., & Ciampo, M. (2014). MyPlate myths debunked. Journal Of The Academy Of Nutrition And Dietetics, 114(5), 674-675. doi:10.1016/j.jand.2014.03.