Young women's version of this guide

A well-balanced diet includes all of the food groups. These food groups are vegetables, fruits, dairy, protein, grains, and fats. MyPlate is a tool that can help you choose healthy portions of foods from these groups and eat a well-balanced plate at meals.

What is MyPlate?

MyPlate is a tool that was created by the US government to promote  well-balanced meals. MyPlate includes the types of foods you should be eating at all of your meals and encourages a balance of portions. By showing a balance of healthy foods, MyPlate can help you get the right amount of energy and nutrients each day.

Some of the key messages of MyPlate are listed below:

  • Make half your plate fruits and vegetables
  • Make ¼ of your plate starches and/or grains
  • Aim to make at least half your daily grains whole grains
  • Make 1/4 of your plate protein
  • Ensure a calcium source such as milk or an alternative
  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day

What about the foods that are not shown on MyPlate?

MyPlate is a simple image and therefore does not include everything you may eat or drink at meals. For example, water isn’t shown on the plate, even though water is something you should have every day. MyPlate also doesn’t include fats in the image; healthy fats such as olive or canola oil may be used to prepare food or found in foods such as fish, nuts, and avocados. Foods and beverages that are high in saturated fats and added sugars, such as desserts, chips, and sodas are also not included in MyPlate. Although it’s okay to make the choice to eat these foods, they aren’t shown on MyPlate because they should not be consumed as often as the other food groups shown.

When can I use MyPlate?

MyPlate can easily be used when sitting down to any meal.

The following are some examples of using MyPlate:

  • Breakfast: Egg on whole wheat English muffin with spinach and tomato, banana strawberry yogurt smoothie
  • Lunch: Sandwich with whole grain bread, lean chicken, part-skim cheese, tomato slices, lettuce and water
  • Dinner: ¼ plate of brown rice and beans, ¼ plate chicken and tomato stew, ½ plate sautéed spinach and fruit with yogurt

Does my meal need to look like MyPlate every time?

Even though some meals aren’t eaten on a plate, you can still apply the MyPlate principles. For example, a burrito, a slice of pizza, or bowl of soup may not look like the MyPlate picture; however, the MyPlate concepts will still apply. Think about a slice of pizza – the crust (grains), cheese (protein/dairy), and tomato sauce/topped with vegetables (vegetables)!

Is MyPlate only for eating at home?

The ideas behind MyPlate apply no matter where or what you are eating. At home, MyPlate may be used during family meals, which is a good way to promote healthy habits. For example, planning family meals ahead of time can become easier, since MyPlate shows you how each family member can have a well-balanced meal. Outside of the home, it can be used when ordering from a menu, a buffet line or at a social event. For example, if you find yourself choosing something with only two food groups such as steak and a bread roll, have other food groups on the side or mixed in such as a side salad or side of broccoli.

Where can I find MyPlate?

More information about the MyPlate method can be found here. This website includes educational material and tip sheets for families and people of different ages.  Some of the online tools include eating on a budget, MyPlate tip sheets and quizzes, and what’s cooking with recipe ideas.