I tried to eat based on MyPlate ratios
It’s a lifestyle diet plan only followed by people who really have their shit together
MyPlate is the USDA’s current nutrition guide, published in 2011 after nineteen years of food pyramids. It is a diagram in the form of a plate divided into quadrants for fruit, vegetables, proteins, and grains, as well as a side of dairy.
In other words, it’s a lifestyle diet plan only followed by people who really have their shit together. People far more mature and thoughtful than myself. So, as someone with a fairly plain diet and very crude cooking skills, I decided to see if a simpleton like me could follow the MyPlate plan.
I perused the MyPlate website for a while, jotting down various quantities required for a 20-year old woman and their equivalencies for my favorite kinds of foods.
On a day-to-day basis I rarely think about the food I’m eating and I prioritize my schedule over my meals, often forgetting to eat breakfast or lunch and instead snacking throughout the day. More than anything, I knew this would be a test of self-control.
I documented everything in the form of journal entries throughout the process, and calculated how well I filled each food group with the MyPlate SuperTracker.
Day 1: Friday
Today I went to Trader Joe’s armed with several different shopping lists, but while browsing the avocados, my friend invited me to go camping tomorrow. In the spirit of college, youth, and spontaneous life experiences, of course I said yes.
Will I postpone the MyPlate experiment?
I say, “challenge accepted.”
Within thirty minutes of arriving home from the grocery store, I began eating some strawberries to fulfill at least a portion of my fruit requirement for the day. There was a chocolate bar sticking out of the top of my grocery bag, so I took a bite and then I took several bites and then I ate half of it.
My logic is that chocolate and strawberries are romantic together. Need I say more?
7 strawberries = 43% of daily fruits requirement.
Day 2: Saturday
Breakfast: Before leaving for Tahoe this morning, I ate a 6am breakfast suggested by the MyPlate website:
- 1 C toasted oat cereal = 16% of daily grains requirement.
- 1/2 C low fat milk = 16% of daily dairy requirement.
- 1 banana + 1 cup of orange juice = 100% of daily fruits requirement.
I felt healthy.
I felt empowered.
I felt Mother Nature’s spirit coursing through my veins.
The feeling did not last long.
Breakfast #2: Two hours later on the way to Tahoe, we decided to stop at Carl’s Jr. for breakfast. The trees wilted several inches as they gazed on at our frivolous shenanigans.
I am starting to realize that the experiment will be much more difficult than I anticipated.
After a meager snack of cheese and strawberries by the lakeside, I decided it was probably wise to postpone the experiment until after my camping trip.
Day 3: Sunday
I drove back from Tahoe this time. My friend made me a salami and cheese sandwich which I wolfed down while driving. Tomorrow will be the day I start my new diet.
Day 4: Monday
I am home. I am back in the game. Guns blazing. Ready to rumble.
Breakfast: I woke up late for work and grabbed a piece of bread, smeared some peanut butter on it, and stuffed it in my mouth as I walked out the door. Hey, it was whole wheat bread. And peanut butter is a protein. I just need to work on my planning.
Lunch: On my break right before class, I had seven or eight carrots, some hummus, and strawberries with yogurt, because I’m a simple gal. Who even eats lunch?
Dinner: I decided to follow a MyPlate recipe for a simple tuna wrap. I made a crude tuna salad with some mayonnaise, salt, and pepper. I didn’t have tortillas so I used more whole grain bread and turned it into a sandwich with half an avocado. I also ate some more carrots, hummus, and yogurt on the side.
It was at this point that I remembered how much I dislike tuna, so I spent a good 20 minutes forcing myself to eat this sandwich, tempted as I was to pour myself a bowl of cereal instead.
- 3 slices whole grain bread = 43% of daily grains requirement.
- 1/2 tbsp peanut butter, 2 tbsp hummus, 3 oz tuna = 90% of daily protein requirement.
- 13 baby carrots, 1/2 avocado = 85% daily vegetable requirement.
- 6 strawberries = 38% daily fruit requirement.
- 1 cup yogurt = 31% daily dairy requirement
Day 5: Tuesday
I woke up late today.
Breakfast/Lunch: Two slices of avocado toast with 2 eggs, 1 C orange juice. I even arranged it all cute and shit.
Snack: 1 C yogurt with honey
Dinner: Beef pho, shrimp/veggie wrap. Yeah, I definitely didn’t make this myself. (Thanks Pho K&K on Telegraph Ave in Berkeley!)
- 1 C orange juice = 50% of daily fruit requirement
- 1 avocado, veggie/shrimp wrap = 80% of daily vegetable requirement
- 2 fried eggs, beef pho = 99% of daily proteins requirement
- 2 slices multigrain bread, pho noodles, etc = 84% of daily grains requirement
- 1 C yogurt = 31% of daily dairy requirement
Day 6: Wednesday
Breakfast: 1 C toasted oat cereal, 1/2 C low fat milk, 1 banana. This breakfast is a keeper.
Lunch: Turkey/avocado/provolone wrap (4 slices turkey, 1 avocado, 2 slices provolone), 1 tortilla, 5 strawberries. My plating skills are really improving, damn.
Snack: Carrots and hummus
Dinner: Penne pasta with meat sauce, 1 C milk (Gypsy’s Trattoria Italiana, Durant Ave in Berkeley)
- 1 banana, strawberries = 61% of daily fruit requirement
- 1 avocado, baby carrots= 92% of daily vegetable requirement
- turkey slices, pasta meat sauce = 103% of daily proteins requirement
- Toasted oat cereal, tortilla, penne pasta = 116% of daily grains requirement
- Provolone cheese, milk = 94% of daily dairy requirement
During the first few days of my MyPlate experiment, I found that I really wasn’t eating enough to come close to the 2000 recommended calorie diet. I’ve always known that I should prioritize myself more than work and school, but this was a big wake up call. The good news is that I became more and more cognizant of this as the days went on, and something about tracking my food for this article made me hold myself more accountable. Actively thinking about eating made me eat healthier food and better ratios, who’d have thunk?