Mapping Out MyPlate: Navigating Nutritional Needs

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MyPyramid to MyPlate

Say “goodbye” to MyPyramid, and “hello” to the colorful plate! The picture may look different, but the messages are similar:

  • Eat a variety of foods – the more colorful, the better.
  • Eat more of some foods, like fruits and vegetables, and less of others.

However, compared to MyPyramid, MyPlate is easier to follow to help you choose what and how much food to eat.


The Breakdown

MyPlate has 4 sections:

  • Vegetables,
  • Fruits
  • Grains
  • Protein
  • a “side order” of Dairy.


Grains include bread, cereal, rice, tortillas, and pasta. Whole-grain products, like brown rice, 100% whole-wheat bread, and oatmeal, are recommended because they have more fiber and help you feel full. Aim for half of grains to be whole grain.


Healthy protein options include lean beef, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds, beans, and tofu. Protein helps build and keep muscles and tissue in your body strong.


Milk, yogurt, cheese, and fortified soy milk. MyPlate includes dairy, which could be a cup of milk, or a serving of cheese or yogurt. Choose low-fat or non-fat dairy items most of the time.


Choose a variety of fruits especially those that are dark green, red and orange, like apples, kiwi, mangos, strawberries and oranges. Fruits provide essential vitamins and minerals and are high in fiber. Choose fresh or frozen fruits whenever possible. If using canned fruits, look for those in water or their natural juices.


Choose a variety of veggies especially those that are dark green, red and orange, like green peas, spinach, beets and butternut squash. Veggies are naturally low in calories and are high in fiber. Choose fresh or frozen veggies whenever possible. If using canned veggies, look for those with “no-salt added”.

So What’s Different?

MyPlate’s Big Messages:

  • MyPlate has 4 sections-Vegetables, Fruits, Grains, and Protein-and a “side order” of Dairy.
  • Vegetables and fruits should take up half the plate, with a bigger portion of vegetables than fruit.
  • Grains and protein foods should take up the other half of the plate, with a bigger portion of grains, and preferably whole grains, than protein.
  • Cut back on foods high in solid fats (butter, animal fat, etc.), added sugars, and salt.
  • MyPlate shows you how to balance food groups and encourages you to include all the food groups in each meal.
  • Remember: Having a colorful plate means your meal has a variety of foods and nutrients!

 Do It Yourself Activity Instructions

To get a little perspective of food groups and serving sizes, take a moment to map our MyPlate:

  1. Using the blank MyPlate placemat, label and color in each food section. Use the graphic in the informational materials as a guide.
  2. Take a moment to flip through Healthy Bites: A Wisconsin Guide to Improving Childhood Nutrition. Use the information about the different food groups to write down 2 or 3 strategies for increasing nutrition within each food group:
    • Fruits (pages 12 and 13)
    • Vegetables (pages 12 and 13)
    • Grains (pages 14 and 15)
    • Protein (pages 16 and 17)
    • Dairy (pages 16 through 19
  3. Write your strategies down next to each section of the plate or if you need more space, on the back of your sheet.
  4. Take your MyPlate placemat back to share with your family. Hang it somewhere in plain sight to serve as a reminder. You can take a blank copy home for your children to color in, too!

Materials for the Mapping Out MyPlate learning center:


Nemours. Kids Health. Retrieved from

United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved from

Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, Wisconsin Department of Health Services & Wisconsin Department of Children and Families. (2011). Healthy Bites: A Wisconsin Guide to Improving Childhood Nutrition.

Special thanks to Angeline Vanto for developing this learning center 

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