Welcome MyPlate (Thali), Goodbye MyPyramid!

On June 2nd, First Lady Michelle Obama , Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and
Surgeon General Regina Benjamin unveiled a new icon to complement the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans  . The new symbol for healthy eating called MyPlate  will help consumers make better food choices  and  will replace the food pyramid.

This means the plate (thali) is in and the MyPyramid is out!  

Let’s take a look at the new MyPlate design and compare it with a traditional home-cooked Indian thali.  A Thali (Hindi: थाली, meaning “plate”; IPA: [tʰɑːliː] ) refers to an arrangement of food in a round plate (with bowls) or a tray with multiple compartments that has all the food groups in just the right proportions.

The new guidelines recommend filling half the plate with fruits and veggies, 1/4 with grains
and 1/4 with protein. A cup of milk on the side reminds folks to drink low-fat or nonfat milk or
have a cup of yogurt each day.

The new MyPlate is described as- 
• colorful
• an easy-to-understand visual cue
• uncomplicated
• simple, actionable advice

A typical traditional home-made Indian thali  is nutritionally balanced and a colorful meal. Regardless of regional variances, the thali has the perfect combination of the five food groups, offers variety of textures, and encompasses all the six characteristic tastes – astringent such as beans, cabbage, apple; bitter such as spinach and kale; pungent such as ginger, chili peppers; sweet such as rice, pasta, sugar, cream; sour such as lemon, vinegar, yogurt;   and salty, anything to which salt is added.  The spices added to food not only add flavor to the meal but research shows that they are  a source of antioxidants, phytochemicals and essential oils.
Living in the age of  Reality TV, apps, iPhones and Facebook, we have forgotten the importance of having a wholesome and peaceful meals. 

A typical thali comprises of: 
1. Grains – roti or rice, vegetables
2. Protein – beans or lentils
3. Dairy- yogurt/buttermilk/lassi/ ghee
4. Vegetables – cooked and  raw (salad)
5. Chutneys. Condiments (aids digestion)
6. Papadam roasted.
7. Desert – carrot halwa/ fruit salad.

Our ancestors on the Indian sub-continent have been using the “Plate Method” for thousands of years to inherently incorporate a daily nutritionally balanced meal without requiring externally enforced guidelines. We have gone a full circle and the MyPlate guidelines that  the USDA has launched looks so very promising !

As registered dietitians and bloggers, we’re here to help.  Here’s what my RDs  colleagues had to say about the new MyPlate:

Janet Helm: Nutrition Unplugged

Bonnie Taub Dix: USA Today 
Toby Amidor:  Food Network’s Healthy Eats 
Elizabeth Ward: Expect the Best 
Lisa Young: The Portion Teller 
Regan Jones: Professional Palate 
Liz Weiss, Janice Bissex:  Meal Makeover Moms’ Kitchen 
Alysa Bajenaru: Inspired RD 
Serena  Ball:  Teaspoon Communications 
Shelley Rael: Eat Well, Live Well, Be Well 
Marisa Moore:  Marisa Moore Nutrition 
Rachel Begun: The Gluten-Free RD 
Katie Hamm: Healthy and Happy Hour 
Elana Natker: A Sprinkle of Sage 
Judy Doherty:  Food and Health Communications    
Leslie Schilling: Born to Eat  
Chere Bork:  Taste Life, With Chere 
Cathy Leman: NutriFit 
Danielle Omar 
Marie Spano: Performance Nutrition 
Carol Plotkin: On Nutrition 
Jessica Levinson: Nutritioulicious 
Penny Wilson: Eating for Performance 
Heather Mangieri: Nutrition Checkup 
Georgia Kostas 
Kati Mora: Around the Plate 
Emma Stirling: The Scoop on Nutrition 
International Food Information Council:  Food Insight

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