American Society For Nutrition

USDA's My Plate: What are we eating?

USDA's My Plate: What are we eating?

Excellence in Nutrition Research and Practice
Posted on 07/14/2011 at 06:33:12 PM by Student Blogger

By Ann L.

It's been a month now since USDA launched its new food icon that replaces the familiar but increasingly confusing food pyramid. It is neatly sectioned into areas for fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and dairy. But how does this compare to what American's are actually eating? The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans lists the top 25 sources of calories in the American diet. The top 10 are:

Grain-based desserts*

Yeast breads

Chicken and chicken mixed dishes

Soda/energy/sports drinks


Alcoholic beverages

Pasta and pasta dishes

Tortillas, burritos, tacos

Beef and beef mixed dishes

Dairy desserts

*cakes, cookies, pies, cobbler, sweet rolls, pastries, donuts

It is not surprising that fruits and vegetables are nowhere to be found on this list given their low energy density, but what does it say that our number one source of calories is desserts? What are your thoughts on the new icon?

Perhaps the actual American plate looks something like this:

my plate


Hi Ann. This is quite disheartening, yet not surprising. The typical american diet has a long way to go to get to where it should be.

I think that a good way to look at nutrition is just to remember the term "whole foods". Single-ingredient foods are what we need to be eating. Many of them are included in the major categories on the USDA's new food plate.

Ann... That’s a horrible plate. I'm not surprised if obesity becomes the biggest problem in America. Well, this should not entirely blame the people because the government itself does not regulate nutrients. Many examples exist all around us... I also often hear the information that the food label in supermarkets is wrong. Is this true? If true, I think it would be difficult to run a diet program from USDA.

Posted Aug 12, 2011 2:21 PM by Rachel

While I completely agree that Americans have a generally poor diet, looking at the top 25 sources of calories may not be a fair way to compare foods since F&V are rich in water and low in calories. I wonder what the top 25 sources of food in terms of volume look like.....