In my recent critique of the new USDA dietary guidelines, I wrote that we’ll never see a real food version of MyPlate as long as the food industry holds sway over the guidelines and USDA continues to promote industrial foods. While this is true, there’s no reason we can’t create our own real food version of MyPlate to promote what we think is healthy and what’s not. Admittedly, it’s difficult to convey a lot of information in a single graphic but MyPlate promotes foods that are truly unhealthy. There are structural problems with MyPlate as well—dairy should be included in the protein category and the glass next to the plate should be water.
Allowing industrial food corporations to influence the dietary guidelines — from dairy and meat to apple juice and corn flakes — makes it clear that the health of the American people is not the USDA’s top priority.
My real food approach to MyPlate clearly conveys what should be included and what should not be, and has no agenda other than presenting the healthiest real food diet for all Americans. The underpinning of a real food diet is plant-based and focuses on whole foods that are organic and sourced locally, whenever possible.
Simply giving these guidelines isn’t going to change the fact that too many Americans lack access to real foods — but change doesn’t seem to be happening from the top down. In the meantime, by providing clear and accurate guidelines based on real food, Americans can see what a healthy diet really looks like and start demanding greater access to these foods.