How does MyPlate Compare to the Idaho Plate Method?

Posted: July 15, 2011

MyPlate is a new food icon recently released by USDA to complement MyPyramid. It offers a simpler rendition of what might appear on a healthy plate. Many people with diabetes adhere to the Idaho Plate Method. How do the two compare?
MyPlate Food Icon from USDA

MyPlate Food Icon from USDA

MyPlate hopes to create a healthier nation, but is there a better tool for people with diabetes?

MyPlate, the new food icon introduced by the USDA, represents the 2010 USDA Dietary Guidelines. It simply illustrates the five food groups using a visual place setting. The new "quick and simple" reminder for us to be mindful of what we are consuming, hopes to increase the awareness and importance of eating healthy.

Individuals should base their food decisions on the colorful visual, and arrange their plate accordingly. Half of the plate should be filled with fruits and vegetables of varying colors. The other half is comprised of protein and grains. Your dairy intake is represented by a small drinking glass. All together absent from the place setting are desserts. This is beneficial, not just for weight loss, but for all individuals wishing to live a healthy lifestyle.

MyPlate can be helpful to most individuals, however, individuals with diabetes need to look at their plate a little differently. Since the main concern is their glucose levels, a little tweaking needs to be done in order to fit this manageable lifestyle. A helpful, educational tool for this purpose was introduced in 1993 by members of the Idaho Diabetes Care and Education practice group. The Idaho Plate Method was created to incorporate the American Diabetes Association Nutrition Recommendations for individuals with diabetes. This method helps aid in weight loss, improved carbohydrate distribution, a more nutritionally sound diet, a higher intake of fiber, and a lower fat and cholesterol intake.

The similar graphic shifts the portion of fruit and replaces it with more non starchy vegetables. This will add fiber, minerals and vitamins to the diet as well as assisting in glycemic control. The portion of fruit is not lost however. It is simply reduced to one serving and shown in a small bowl beside the plate. This is to ensure that individuals with diabetes keep their sugars in check and in turn possess better blood glucose control.

Both "plates" are positive tools for teaching individuals about healthy eating. They are meant to benefit most everyone in the population, but everyone is different. Some may reduce dairy due to lactose intolerance, and so on. As educators, we need to express the importance of managing diabetes by lowering sugar intake, and the Idaho Plate Method is a great way to do that.

Contact Information

Jill N. Cox, MS, RD
  • Child/Youth Development Specialist, Nutrition, Health and Wellness
Phone: 814-865-9837