Susan L. Madden, MS and Marjorie Montemayor-Quellenberg, MA
Ever wonder what foods you should be eating and how much? Well, the ChooseMyPlate website from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) may have the simple answer you are looking for. The USDA created MyPlate as a way to illustrate the relative amounts of different types of food people should eat daily to achieve a healthy, balanced diet. There is also an interactive website containing a wealth of information, including explanations of food groups; common foods in each group; detailed guidelines for good nutrition; and personalized tools for tracking eating habits.
Each colored area on the plate represents a different food group as well as an idea of how much food from that group should be on your plate:
On the main page of the MyPlate website you will find the MyPlate symbol, along with these key message tabs:
The MyPlate tab highlights all the food groups. First, you get an overview. Once you get comfortable, dive in and read about each group individually.
If you need a starting place, check out the food groups page. Here you can learn how to boost your vegetable intake, or find low fat alternatives to common dairy products. Are you confused about portion sizes? Don't worry, all the information can be found here. In general, you'll want to remember these nutrition basics:
Under the weight management and calories tab, you can find ways you to reduce your calorie intake. Sometimes, easy substitutions can make a big difference. For example, eat less foods that are high in sodium. To find out how much sodium is in your food, check the Nutrition Facts label. Often, there are low sodium options available.
If you want to cut back on sugar, consider switching from soft drinks to water. If you aren't ready to make that jump, switch to sugar-free soft drinks, then slowly increase your water intake while you decrease your soft drink intake.
You can't lose or manage weight without physical activity. The MyPlate website can also help you find ways to increase your activity level, even if you think you're destined to be a couch potato. Head over to the physical activity section and learn about the benefits of regular exercise. This section will also give you pointers on how to slowly increase your physical activity level.
Now that you're on your way to a better you, how do you log your diet and physical activity achievements? With SuperTracker of course. SuperTracker is a place where you can set your goals, personalize your plans, and track your progress. Not only that, you can find helpful tips while getting support from other people who are doing the same thing.
MyPlate has lots of information for people of all ages, from preschoolers to college students. If you pregnant or a new mom who is breastfeeding, MyPlate has something for you too. MyPlate and SuperTracker are useful tools to put you on the right track for a healthy lifestyle.
Choose My Plate—US Department of Agriculture
Dietitians of Canada
ChooseMyPlate. US Department of Agriculture Choose My Plate website. Available at:
http://www.choosemyplate.gov. Accessed March 6, 2015.
Dietary guidelines for Americans 2010. US Department of Agriculture and US Department of Health and Human Services. Available at: http://www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines/dga2010/DietaryGuidelines2010.pdf. Accessed March 6, 2015.
SuperTracker. US Department of Agriculture SuperTracker website. Available at: https://www.supertracker.usda.gov/default.aspx. Accessed March 6, 2015.
Last reviewed March 2015 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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