Southern Illinois University Carbondale

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What’s the Deal with MyPlate?

Did you know that March is National Nutrition Month? Every year, there are 31 days dedicated to spreading the word about nutrition! One of the most important tools you can use when trying to learn better nutrition is MyPlate.

MyPlate was developed in 2010 as a replacement for the Food Pyramid. Because it’s relatively new, many people are unsure of how exactly to use it. In the past, we knew that the pyramid represented the daily portions of foods you were supposed to eat. In contrast, MyPlate is a tool that you can use at every meal. Follow these simple steps for using MyPlate!

  1. Whole Grains: These should take up about a quarter of your plate and should include things like whole grain breads, oats, quinoa, and brown rice. At least half of your daily grains should be whole!
  2. Protein: The purple category on MyPlate is protein. Choose a lean protein to cover a quarter of your plate. Chicken, turkey, lean ground beef, and trimmed pork can make great meat proteins. For non-meat protein, choose tofu, eggs, or beans!
  3. Fruits and Vegetables: Your mother was right! Your plate should be filled with mostly fruits and vegetables! Instead of moving them around the plate to make it look like you’ve eaten them, try a variety of fruits and veggies until you find the kinds you like. If you prefer canned food because of spoilage or budget, try to get fruit packed in juice or vegetables in low sodium liquid.
  4. Dairy: The dairy group is represented off to the side of MyPlate. Choose a side of low-fat milk or yogurt to complete your meal. If you prefer, you could also have dairy represented by low-fat cheese on top of a salad, protein, or grain.

Although “empty” calories and “fun” foods like sweets aren’t represented on MyPlate, they can still be part of your diet! Choose a special day to have dessert instead of having it every day, or limit yourself to one piece of dark chocolate a day.

Remember, there are no “good” or “bad” foods, only things in moderation!

Stay healthy, Salukis!

Your University Housing Nutrition Team
Residence Hall Dining

Emily Feagans
Dietetics Graduate Assistant

Cecily Haase
Undergraduate Nutrition Intern