For a long time, the food model most of us thought of for a healthy diet was the food guide pyramid -- building up a healthy diet from the bottom up with healthy grains, fruits and vegetables. The model was around for many years, but the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has replaced it with a new model -- a simple meal plate.
The newer model is based on a nutrition counseling method known as the plate method, which is used in both diabetic diet and general healthy diet counseling. The simplicity of the plate allows you to visualize a balanced meal plan as most of us actually eat it -- on a plate. It is an especially useful tool for the visual learner to be able to have a meal plan drawn out in the form of a plate. But even if you're not a visual person, the plate method is one step simpler than the food pyramid visual: The pyramid gave us an entire day in a visual model -- the plate method breaks a healthy daily plan down into one meal. It takes the pyramid one step further and makes translating a meal plan into action that much easier.
To see the new model, either visit the old www.mypyramid.gov website to be redirected, or go directly to www.choosemyplate.gov. Instead of a picture of a food pyramid, you see a picture of a dinner plate broken down into food groups. In addition to pictures of the new model, you can print detailed food group lists or try out some of the food tracking software embedded in the site. Click on "get a personalized plan" or "analyze my diet" for free diet tracking tools to help keep you on track with your meal plan.
The difference between this new MyPlate food guide and the plate method used for diabetic meal planning is the left side of the plate. In diabetic meal planning, we teach that half of the plate should be vegetables -- www.choosemyplate.gov recommends that for the general public that half of the plate can be made up of both vegetables and fruits, allowing for a little bit higher carbohydrate intake. So diabetics should just take note of this difference and make this substitution when working within the tools found on this site.
For more information on the various ways diabetics can plan their meals, including the plate method, you can check out this article on diabetic meal planning.