Pyramid or plate? Explore healthy eating options

Healthy diets come in all shapes and sizes. Discover how easy it is to eat healthy.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

A healthy eating plan can be illustrated in many ways. The U.S. Department of Agriculture uses a dinner plate, called MyPlate, to encourage people to make healthy food choices.

Many other healthy diets are represented by food pyramids. These include the Asian, Latin American, Mediterranean, and Vegetarian diet pyramids, as well as the Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight Pyramid, just to name a few. These graphics reinforce the choices that are the foundation of a healthy diet.

Basic principles of a healthy diet

Symbols, such as a pyramid, illustrate how the pieces of a healthy diet fit together. The base of the pyramid is typically made up of foods that should be the bulk of your healthy diet. In contrast, foods you should eat in smaller amounts or less frequently are shown in the smaller sections of the pyramid.

The same principle applies to the dinner plate — half of the plate consists of what should be the bulk of your diet.

Of course, no single food provides all of the nutrients that your body needs, so the idea is to eat a variety of foods from each group to get all the necessary nutrients and other substances that promote good health.

Whether in pyramid or plate form, most healthy eating plans emphasize the following:

  • Eating more plant foods, including fruits, vegetables and whole grains
  • Choosing lean protein from a variety of sources
  • Limiting sweets and salt
  • Controlling portion sizes
  • Being physically active
Jan. 14, 2016 See more In-depth