Harvard’s Healthy Eating Plate: Better Than the Food Pyramid?

It took about 20 years to build each of the Great Pyramids at Giza, and that’s about how long the USDA has been building and retooling their own modern food pyramid. Actually, the newest version is no longer a pyramid, but simply known as the “MyPlate.”

my plate government

No doubt countless hours and millions of federal dollars have gone into it’s development, but many experts think it’s hardly a Modern Wonder of the World.

In fact, The Harvard School of Public Health recently came out as one of the biggest critics of My Plate, and offered up their own, less politically correct version called The Healthy Eating Plate. But, what does politics have to do with nutrition, you ask?

How Can a Glass of Milk Cost $7 Million?

Well, there is one glaring difference between the government-funded diagram and the Harvard version, and that is the glass of milk on the table. Perhaps some of the $7+ million that the Dairy Lobby spends each year helped get that glass of milk onto the government’s iconic place setting?

The unholy union of business and government is one reason that Harvard was inspired to create their own version, stating on their website that, “The Healthy Eating Plate is based exclusively on the best available science and was not subjected to political and commercial pressures from food industry lobbyists.”

Here’s Harvard’s version:

healthy eating plate harvard

We agree that Harvard did a better job. (Plus, they have a better rugby team than the USDA) In fact, the government’s MyPlate version leaves a lot to be desired, including:

  • They don’t mention that whole grains are better for you than refined grains
  • They don’t distinguish between proteins. That space on their diagram should have healthy fish or nuts, but just as well could have a hot dog on it
  • There are no specifics on which types of vegetables you should choose. Americans eat too many potatoes (aka french fries) and their consumption should be limited
  • Notice that expensive real estate that the “dairy” image holds. Although the government’s version infers that you should drink milk with every meal, experts recommend limiting dairy intake to one or two servings a day, since high intakes been linked to prostate cancer
  • The government doesn’t distinguish between healthy or bad fats. Clearly there is a difference between olive oil and mayonnaise
  • The USDA’s MyPlate doesn’t mention exercise, which is crucial in a healthy lifestyle

Why Harvard’s Healthy Eating Plate is Better Than MyPlate

Want to learn more? Harvard does a nice job of breaking down exactly why their Healthy Eating Plate is better here.

Do you miss the old food pyramid? For sake of nostalgia, here are the previous versions. You can see that the Food Pyramid was inspired by a USDA diagram released decades earlier called, “The Basic Seven.”The Basic Seven – 1946Food Pyramid – 1992Hip New Food Pyramid – 2005

At least Harvard and the USDA can agree that saving money is good. If you are looking to lose weight or find a coupon for popular diets, consider one of our new coupons for Noom and Weight Watchers that we update every week.

History of the Food Pyramid

Here’s a brief history of the USDA food pyramid:

basic seven food 1946
Basic 7 food pyramid 1946
USDA Food Pyramid 1992
food pyramid 1992
food pyramid 2005
food pyramid 2005