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How to Follow the USDA MyPlate Dietary Guidelines

Forget the food pyramid. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s nutrition guidelines are now called MyPlate. Here's how to adhere to the USDA recommendations..


  • Step 1: Picture a plate Picture a plate divided into 4 sections -- fruits, vegetables, grains, and protein. Fruit and vegetables should fill half the plate, with veggies taking up a little more room than fruits; divide the other side between grains and protein, with grains getting a bit more space. Now envision a small cup next to your plate, marked "Dairy." Not soda. Dairy.
  • TIP: Go to to find daily MyPlate requirements of each food group according to age, gender, and level of physical activity.
  • Step 2: Mix it up Eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables so your body gets a range of nutrients. Eating produce of different colors is an easy way to do so.
  • Step 3: Choose your protein wisely Get your protein from omega-3 rich seafood; lean meats and poultry; eggs; nuts; seeds; and beans. Avoid processed meats like bacon and hot dogs.
  • TIP: String beans are vegetables, not protein.
  • Step 4: Eat more whole grains When filling a quarter of your plate with grains, make sure that at least half of them are whole grains, meaning they contain the entire grain kernel. Examples include whole-wheat flour, bulgur, oatmeal, and brown rice.
  • Step 5: Choose fat free or low fat dairy Choose dairy foods that retain their calcium content, such as milk, most cheeses, and yogurt, as opposed to those that don't, such as butter and cream cheese. And try to stick to fat-free or low-fat dairy.
  • TIP: If you drink soy milk, make sure it's calcium-fortified.
  • Step 6: Limit fat sugar and salt No matter what food group you're eating, limit salt, solid fats, and added sugars -- those that are put into foods and beverages when they're processed. Bon appétit!
  • FACT: First Lady Michelle Obama's anti-obesity team collaborated with the USDA on MyPlate.

You Will Need

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Grains
  • Protein
  • Dairy
  • Smart choices

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