The Department of Agriculture officially did away with the Food Guide Pyramid we’re all so familiar with last week and replaced it with MyPlate. The thinking goes that a plate is much easier to refer to than a pyramid.
After realizing that I don’t have any pyramid-shaped dishes in my kitchen, I think I agreed with them.
MyPlate is similar to a pie-graph that divides the plate into the portions they recommend for the American diet. Classes represented on the plate are Vegetables, Proteins, Grains and Fruits, with a side serving of dairy recommended as well.
What are the Differences Between the Pyramid and MyPlate?
- The “Breads, Cereals, Rice and Pasta” group which used to represent the base of the Pyramid was changed to “Grains” in MyPlate. In the Pyramid, it made up over 40% of the diet while it only makes up roughly 25% in MyPlate.
- The “Fruit” group remains. The difference is that in the Pyramid, it only represented roughly 15% of the recommended diet, while it is now closer to 25%.
- The “Vegetable” group remains in MyPlate as well and has increased from 20% to roughly 25%.
- The “Meat, Poultry, Fish, Dry Beans, Eggs and Nuts” group has been changed to a much simpler “Protein” category. It has also increased from a little over 10% to about 25% as well.
- The “Milk, Yogurt and Cheese” group has been changed to “Dairy” and is represented by a cup-looking object to the side of the plate. They probably do this since most sources of dairy would not be on a dinner plate (a glass of milk, a small yogurt, etc.) This value used to represent a little over 10% of the Pyramid, and I’m not sure what the recommended value is in MyPlate.
- The “Fats, Oils and Sweets” group at the top of the Pyramid has been eliminated altogether in MyPlate.
To sum things up, they increased their recommendations for fruits, vegetables and protein, while decreasing their recommendations for grains and eliminated fats and sweets. We at CeliAct are pretty pumped about this.
Why the Change to MyPlate Makes a Difference for Celiacs
- While the recommendation for Grains has dropped from roughly 40% to 25%, that 25% is still tough for us to get! MyPlate actually encourages us to make at least half of these grains whole grains (an even tougher tasks for us celiacs). A gluten free diet should not mean a carb-free diet. There are several sources of gluten free carbs you should focus on. Grains (and complex carbs in particular) provide us with essential B-complex vitamins and fiber.
- Protein has increased from roughly 10% to 25% in MyPlate. While this is an easier class of food for us to wrap our heads around, it is important to understand that not all proteins are built the same. Look out for Zach’s article later this week that puts a whole new spins on the best way to get protein.
- Vegetables get a slight increase from the Pyramid to MyPlate (and rightly so!). But did you know that some vegetables are packed with nutrients that people with celiac need so desperately?
- Dairy has become its own vague, side-group. While a specific amount is not suggested, it is its own entire category and cannot be ignored. While milk provides essential fat, calcium, and vitamin D and yogurt is packed with probiotics (an absolute staple for people with celiac), the truth is that many of us are lactose intolerant. How do we get around this? Luckily for us, nutritional supplements can provide us with the bone-building nutrients found in milk, as well as the probiotics found in yogurt.
A More Nutritious Horizon
Much of the guidance the government provides in their change from the Pyramid to MyPlate is refreshing to see. As the world wakes up and realizes the importance of proper diet and nutrition, it will only help those with celiac. Because, let’s face it. We need to treat our celiac disease beyond the gluten free diet, and proper nutrition is a core component of that.