The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) introduced a new symbol for healthy eating today and stopped using the food pyramid it first introduced in 1992. The 20-year-old food pyramid was the basis for nutritional guideline throughout the United States.

There were many shortcomings to the old Food Pyramid. For instance, it never advised how much of which kind of food should be consumes. Also, it didn't clearly show the effect of some of the high carbohydrate foods on insulin.

The new icon introduced today is called ‘My Plate’. The dinner plate is divided into four sections for fruits, vegetables, protein, and grains. There is also a dairy cup beside it.

This new guideline will be introduced to schools, used as a part of the federal foods programs, and used by doctors and nurses to battle obesity in the United States.

The USDA stated: “MyPlate is only the first step in a multi-year effort to raise awareness and educate consumers of every age. We’ll continue working closely with First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative and other stakeholders to deliver tips and information necessary to adopt healthier eating habits balanced with physical activity.”

It also mentioned that it had conducted focus groups with approximately 4,500 people, including children, to create the new plate icon.

The total project cost about $2 million, including the budget for an upcoming educational campaign about the plate icon.

Below are the basic guidelines from the new icon ‘My Plate’

Balancing Calories

* Enjoy your food, but eat less.

* Avoid oversized portions.

 Foods to Increase

* Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.

* Make at least half your grains whole grains.

* Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.

 Foods to Reduce

* Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals ? and choose the foods with lower numbers.

* Drink water instead of sugary drinks.