MyPlate Is a Symbol for Healthy Eating MyPlate is the model for healthy eating in the United States. Experts at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the agency in charge of nutrition, created the colorful plate to help people remember to: Eat a variety of healthy foods. Eat less of some foods and more of others. The plate features four sections — vegetables, fruits, grains, and protein — plus a side order of dairy in blue. The big message is that fruits and vegetables take up half the plate, grains and protein take up about one-quarter of the plate. The divided plate also helps keep portion sizes in check. Super-big portionscan cause weight gain. What's a Grain Again? You know what fruits and vegetables are. But here's a reminder about what's included in the three other food groups: protein, grains, and dairy: Protein: Beef; poultry; fish; eggs; nuts and seeds; and beans and peas like black beans, split peas, lentils, and even tofu and veggie burgers. Protein builds and maintains the tissues in your body. Grains: Bread, cereal, rice, tortillas, and pasta. At least half of the grains you eat should be whole-grains, such as whole-wheat bread, oatmeal, and brown rice Whole grains have more fiber and help you feel full. Dairy: Milk, yogurt, cheese, and fortified soy milk. With MyPlate, the dairy circle could be a cup of milk, but you also can get your dairy servings from yogurt or cheese. Choose low-fat or nonfat dairy most of the time. The plate can be used for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. That may make you wonder: Do I really have to eat vegetables with breakfast? The answer is no, but aim to eat a variety of food groups at each meal. And if your breakfast doesn't include a veggie, consider a vegetable at snack time or more vegetables at dinner. The plate also shows how to balance your food groups. There's a reason the protein section is smaller: You don't need as much from that group. Eating more fruits and vegetables will help you eat fewer calories overall, which helps you keep a healthy weight. Eating fruits and veggies also gives you lots of vitamins and minerals. To learn more about MyPlate, visit ChooseMyPlate.gov. Back to Articles Related Articles Nutrition & Fitness Center Want to know more about eating right and being active? This is the place! Read More Go, Slow, and Whoa! A Kid's Guide to Eating Right Want to eat healthier? It's easy when you learn the difference between Go, Slow, and Whoa foods! Read More Figuring Out Food Labels The food label on a food package is a lot like the table of contents in a book - it tells you exactly what the food contains. Read our article for kids for more about food labels. Read More Learning About Carbohydrates Carbohydrates (carbs) are a part of food. Find out why you need them in this article for kids. Read More Learning About Calories You've probably heard about calories. Are they good or bad for you? Find out in this article for kids. Read More Learning About Fats How much fat should be in your daily diet? Find out in this article for kids. Read More Vitamins How vital are vitamins? Find out in this article for kids. Read More Minerals Just like vitamins, minerals help your body grow, develop, and stay healthy. Find out more about minerals in this article for kids. Read More Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor. © 1995-2021 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved. Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.