Many of us grew up with the USDA Food Pyramid which was designed in 1992 and represented the guidelines for healthy eating. Foods groups at the bottom, largest area of the pyramid, grains, cereals, breads were to make up the largest part of our diet as compared to fats and oils at the top, smallest area of the pyramid.
While the classifications of the foods and even the general distribution in our diet was pretty clear (well, maybe controversial, but clear) the pyramid concept didn't really clearly convey in a simplistically way what foods one should eat in a day in order to maintain an healthful diet and weight.
On June 2, 2011 the USDA introduced the new My Plate program. While the general nutritional principals are the same the graphical presentation has taken a giant leap forward. As a tool to be used to teach people a method of improving their eating habits; the MyPlate graphic fills the bill.
The healthful eating guidelines have been boiled down to these simple suggestions:
Balancing Calories Healthful eating includes foods from all natural food groups. Cutting back does not necessarily mean cutting out. If a food is healthful then it should be included in your diet but you may need to eat certain foods in smaller quantities and less often
Foods to Increase Many of us don't eat enough of the foods which are most healthful. The new guidelines show you that for any given meal, half the plate should represent fresh fruits and vegetables.
Foods to Reduce
Ideally if you are able to make most of your food choices from fresh or home-prepared foods then your sodium intake will inherently go down. If you do need to add convenience, pre made foods to your diet then make sure to compare sodium content. Canned soup for example can provide over 1000mg of salt per serving but a comparable reduced salt soup may be less than half of that.