From the Food Pyramid to MyPlate

Every 10 years, the United States Department of Agriculture updates food recommendations based on current research findings. In 2011, we moved away from the Food Pyramid and began using MyPlate.


MyPlate is broken down into five food categories (Fruits, Vegetables, Grains, Protein, and Dairy), and gives us an easier, color coded description of what we should eat.

Note: The MyPlate amounts below are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Consult with a doctor about your recommended calorie intake.

Fruits are color coded red, and the recommend amount is to consume 2 cups of fruits a day. However, the amount of fruit someone consumes may differ based on their health.

Vegetables are represented by the color green. Other plates may differentiate between starchy (e.g., peas, corn, potatoes, and winter squash) and non-starchy vegetables (e.g., greens, broccoli, cucumber, peppers, and cauliflower), but MyPlate does not. The recommended amount of vegetables per day is 2 ½ cups.

Grains are in the dark orange group and it’s best to consume 6 ounces of whole grains (whole grain pasta, breads, brown rice, and oatmeal) instead of white breads, pasta, and rice.  If it is not a whole grain, you may miss out on consuming enough fiber and your blood sugar may be impacted.

Protein is represented by purple and the recommended amount per day is 5 ½ ounces.  Lean meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, tofu, and beans and lentils are a few sources of protein. 

Dairy, which is color coded blue, is not included on the plate, but is directly next to it. The recommendation is 3 cups of low-fat or fat free dairy each day. 

Although MyPlate is the USDA recommended plate, there are other plates that people may use based on their diet.

Healthy Eating Plate

The Healthy Eating Plate is like MyPlate except that it highlights using healthy oils and promotes drinking water and limiting milk/dairy to 1-2 servings per day and juice to 1 small glass a day.

The Diabetes Portion Plate

The Diabetes Portion Plate is drastically different from MyPlate.  With the Diabetes Portion Plate, users are encouraged to include non-starchy vegetables on half of their plate, ¼ of their plate with whole-grains or starchy vegetables, and ¼ of their plate with protein.  Non-fat or low-fat dairy and a piece of fruit, or ½ cup of fruit salad, are included in the diet, but they are not the primary focus.                

What do all of the plates have in common? Portion control.  Portions are similar across the board whether using MyPlate, the Healthy Eating Plate, or the Diabetes Plate.

Rough guideline since hand sizes vary

Everyone is different, so consult your doctor about your calorie needs based on your health, age, and activity level. 


[1]. United States Department of Agriculture. (n.d.). Your MyPlate Plan.

[2]. Harvard Health. (2011). Harvard to USDA: Check out the Healthy Eating Plate.

[3]. Hamilton, L. (2015). How to Create Your Plate. Diabetes Forecast.


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