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MyPlate vs. Food Pyramid: A Brief Comparison

The USDA’s MyPlate and the older Food Pyramid are tools designed to help Americans make healthier food choices. But which one is the better tool?

The MyPlate system was released in 2011, replacing the Food Pyramid with the USDA’s official dietary guidelines. MyPlate is a simple, easy-to-understand visual that shows the five food groups (fruits, vegetables, proteins, grains, and dairy) in proportion to their recommended servings.

On the other hand, the Food Pyramid was released in 1992. It was more complex, with different tiers representing different food groups. The bottom tier, which was the largest, represented carbohydrates and fats, while the top tier represented proteins and sweets.

So, which tool is the better one? Let’s compare both:

The Pros and Cons of MyPlate and the Food Pyramid

MyPlate is simpler and easier to understand than the Food Pyramid. It also encourages Americans to fill half their plate with fruits and vegetables, which is a good thing. It anchors on proportions and balance.

The Food Pyramid, on the other hand, is more detailed and gives specific recommendations for daily servings of each food group. However, the bottom, largest tier representing carbohydrates was not ideal, and many people couldn’t quite understand the concept behind the food pyramid.

MyPlate and the Food Pyramid are good tools for helping Americans make healthier food choices. MyPlate is simpler and easier to understand, while the Food Pyramid provides more detailed recommendations.

The Food Pyramid: How It Works

The food pyramid is a guide to help you make healthy food choices. It shows the amount from each food group you should eat every day. It is divided into six sections:

  • Fats, Oils, and Sweets: Fats and oils are necessary for numerous bodily functions. However, you must consume them sparingly
  • Low-fat Dairy: This includes milk, yogurt, and cheese and is an excellent source of calcium, potassium, and vitamin D. You must consume two to three servings of this group.
  • Protein: This includes chicken, fish, tofu, and beans. Protein is an important source of nutrients and helps keep you full. Like the dairy group, you also must have two to three servings of this group.
  • Fruits: Fruits are rich in vitamins and minerals that keep your body healthy, and you must consume two to three servings of them.
  • Vegetables: These are the essential foods to eat for good health. They are packed with nutrients and fiber, and they help protect against diseases. They must comprise three to five servings of your meals.
  • Carbohydrates: These include whole wheat bread, brown rice, and oatmeal. They are excellent sources of energy and must make up 6–11 servings of your daily intake.

Many criticize that the food pyramid is too complex and hard to understand, and others complain that it is misleading because it gives the impression that carbohydrates are more important than fruits and vegetables.

MyPlate: How It Works

The MyPlate concept is a simple yet effective way to think about healthy eating. It is based on the latest scientific evidence on what we should eat to promote health and prevent disease.

The MyPlate concept is built around five food groups:

  1. Fruits
  2. Vegetables
  3. Grains
  4. Protein
  5. Dairy

A different color represents each food group on the plate. The portion sizes are based on recommended daily intake levels.

The MyPlate concept is a great way to visualize what a healthy diet looks like, and it can help you ensure you’re getting all the nutrients you need.


Both the traditional Food Pyramid and the new MyPlate emblems promote good health and guide us on which foods we should and shouldn’t eat. However, MyPlate is a simpler version that helps promote balance in your diet.

Contact Weigh to Wellness to talk to one of our experienced dietitians in Birmingham, AL. All our weight loss programs are run by board-certified doctors with more than 25 years of experience with weight management. We are your partners in reaching your desired weight loss goals and living a healthy life, so call us at (205) 651-2864 to learn more about our 4-phase approach to healthier you!

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