Harvard’s Version of MyPlate

Harvard provides healthy eating guidelines

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) A problem for many people is knowing how much of what to eat. The Federal government came up with the "MyPlate" initiative to help individuals with eating problems. Now Harvard has published its own 'plate'.

The MyPlate initiative makes it easier for consumers and non-nutritionist to easily understand what it means to eat healthfully. Harvard's "Healthy Eating Plate" claims their plate is backed by recent science and more reliable.

"Learn what and how to eat healthy to avoid obesity."

Nutrition experts from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and Harvard Medical School have come up with the “Healthy Eating Plate” because they felt "MyPlate", from the United States Department of Agriculture, was lacking important information. The Healthy Eating Plate is a blueprint for a healthy meal, so you see and know exactly what you need to do to be healthy.

Harvard's Healthy Eating Plate includes staying active and examples for healthy oils, whole grains and better lean protein.

The sizes of each section are relative to the appropriate portion sizes depending on an individual’s caloric needs. The goal for the Healthy Eating Plate is to provide an easy illustration of how to put together a healthy meal, not necessarily how many calories an individual should eat.

All examples and suggestions are backed by the most recent scientific evidence unlike MyPlate. MyPlate mixes science with bias from agricultural interests, says Walter Willet, M.D., M.P.H., Dr. P.H., a professor of epidemiology and nutrition and the chair of the Department of nutrition at HSPH.

Differences between plates:

  • MyPlate does not recognize or suggest whole grains which have been proven to be better for health
  • MyPlate lacks clarity in the protein section while Healthy Eating Plate suggests lean meats like fish, poultry (chicken), beans or nuts as better protein sources
  • MyPlate does not warn against potatoes or suggest a variety of different colored vegetables
  • Healthy oils like canola and olive oil are completely disregarded in MyPlate which healthy oils have been shown to reduce harmful cholesterol and have heart health benefits
  • MyPlate suggests milk at every meal but there is little evidence that say drinking that much milk will benefit health. The Healthy Eating Plate suggests water instead
  • There is no logo or recommendation of staying active on MyPlate

It is hoped that parents and children will be able to use this model whether they’re eating at home or at a restaurant, says Eric Rimm, Sc.D., associate professor of epidemiology and nutrition at HSPH and a member of the 2010 U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
September 20, 2011
Last Updated:
September 22, 2011