Harvard’s Iteration: Healthy Eating Plate

A few months ago, the USDA revamped the Food Guide Pyramid to look like a plate, entitling it, “choosemyplate.”  The gist of choosmyplate is to look at the picture and try to decipher how many servings of fruits, vegetables, proteins and grains you should eat in one sitting.  Quite confusing if you like following explicit instructions.

The Battle: Choose My Plate vs. The Healthy Eating Plate

According to an article about their version of the plate published in the WSJ Blog on September 14, Harvard decided to create its own iteration of choosemyplate, called “The Healthy Eating Plate.”

Aside from a poor choice in title (um, boring!), and the fact that the plates look almost identical, Harvard’s Healthy Eating Plate beats out Choose My Plate by a long shot.

For one, Harvard believes that Choose My Plate is too simplistic.  The general guidelines are to balance calories, reduce certain types of foods and increase others.

Says Walter Willett, professor of epidemiology and nutrition and chair of HSPH’s department of nutrition, “…you could follow myplate.gov’s advice and still have a horrible diet.”

The Healthy Eating Plate: Winner

The gist of the Healthy Eating Plate is that it focuses on specifics.  For example, potatoes and french fries don’t count as a vegetable according to the Healthy Eating Plate because they consider the carbohydrate source as more “refined.”  Read this post about whole grains to understand the difference between whole and refined sugars.

Additionally, Harvard advocates getting calcium and vitamin D in other forms versus full cups of dairy products.  There are mixed reviews on these studies.  The Healthy Eating Plate reflects Harvard’s view in drinking coffee, water or tea with meals versus a whole cup of milk.  My advice is to stick to drinking and eating calcium-rich and vitamin D rich foods and beverages, and it is better to review your own tolerance to these products.

The Healthy Eating Plate is below in more detail:

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