Forget the food pyramid. MyPlate is today’s food guide.

If you were a child of the 60’s or 70’s, you may remember being told to eat three square meals a day. In those days, many of us were taught to include an even balance of meat, dairy, grains (usually described as cereals, bread, and rice), and fruits/vegetables. As we moved into the 90’s, the food pyramid became the new guide, and we were told to go heavy on grains, medium on fruits and vegetables, and light on dairy and meat. Today, we have something different.

Father and son cook together in the kitchen
Little boy cutting vegetables while his father cooking food in kitchen.
MyPlate illustration

The food guidelines have evolved again and today we have MyPlate, a balance of five food groups: fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and dairy. It was created by the USDA in 2011. The plate-shaped graphic is meant to show how an average plate should be portioned out for proper nutrition during meals. Children can use this illustration as a guide to serve themselves portions to match the picture. The USDA has a list for each of the food groups (fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and dairy) in case you have questions about what fits where.

Little girl with balanced meal on a MyPlate from Lilly

IN 2017, Eli Lilly and Company generously created actual MyPlates (see the blogger’s daughter using hers above) with the food groups portioned and sectioned off so that kids could use the plates to divide up their meals to ensure they meet the portion guidelines. Jump IN was fortunate to partner with Gleaners Food Bank to make a plan to distribute the MyPlates to children throughout central Indiana. Together, Jump IN and Gleaners distributed over 13,000 plates to central Indiana children. Some of our partner organizations that helped with distribution include the Purdue Extension Nutrition Education Program, the Indiana State Department of Health, Pike High School, Eskenazi Health Center, Early Learning Indiana, and Beyond Monumental.

We continue to get requests for MyPlates and hope in the future to have more to distribute. Until then, you can purchase a MyPlate on Amazon – they have plastic or paper MyPlates. These plates are terrific tools for teaching about portion control and creating meals with the right nutritional balance. They can be helpful for healthy eaters of all ages. Bon appetit!