Food challenge: Is MyPlate possible and affordable?
June 14th, 2011
11:48 AM ET

Food challenge: Is MyPlate possible and affordable?

While writing about the USDA’s new food icon, MyPlate, I wondered if anyone can eat like this consistently.

In its color-by-numbers simplicity, MyPlate is a constant reminder of how far my diet falls from the ideal.  Vegetables on my plate are like Sumatran tigers in the wild - they're verging on extinction.

“Comparing the ideal proportions of MyPlate to those of the typical American diet is like holding MyPlate up to a fun-house mirror,” Health.com wrote.

“Even if Americans hear the message that they need to eat more fruits and vegetables, for instance, MyPlate’s 50% standard may be difficult for many people to live up to."

And here's what iReporters said their ideal versions of MyPlate would look like.  The Pop Tarts and cheese puffs on photo 4 is my favorite.

Having written about a few food challenges, involving Twinkies, school lunches and unprocessed foods, I wanted to put MyPlate to a test.

Could I eat what MyPlate suggests for a week?  And can I afford it on an average American budget?

Here are the rules:

1. Eat as closely to the MyPlate icon as possible.

For the next seven days, I will eat and Tweet my meals.  The food groups will be compartmentalized in my trusty bento box.

If I can’t fill my plate with enough of one food group, I will try to make up for it in other meals during the rest of the day.

This challenge is not about weight loss. This is about eating within the MyPlate icon.

2. Spend only $61.27 the entire week.

A common complaint is that healthy foods like fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains cost too much.  This challenge would be far easier if I could walk into Whole Foods and buy prepared meals and vegetables.  But that's not possible for most Americans.

The average American household spends about $6,372 every year on food, both groceries and restaurants.

The unit per household, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics  in 2009, was 2.5 persons.  I’ve divided the yearly expenditure on food and divided by 2 persons and 52 weeks.

Addictive infographic on how Americans spend on food, sorted by cities

The challenge is to eat healthy within the budget constraints of the average American household.  So groceries will come from mainstream stores.

3. Integrate the challenge into dining out.

Another frequent complaint is that it’s hard to make healthy choices when dining at restaurants.

I plan to eat out and order foods that meet the nutritional guidelines. This is tough when restaurants in the South list macaroni and cheese as a vegetable on their menus and your greens are always bathed in fat.

I’ll be tweeting from @MadisonCNN.  Send your suggestions or questions.

If you're curious,  give it a try.  Happy eating!

soundoff (854 Responses)
  1. Nissan Luxury Van Repair


    June 28, 2021 at 14:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Repair Shop For Mercedes Sprinter Vans

    I'm more than happy to discover this page. I want to to thank you for your time for this particularly wonderful read!! I definitely liked every little bit of it and i also have you book marked to check out new things on your website.


    June 28, 2021 at 20:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Sprinter Van Repair In Huntington Beach

    I want to to thank you for this excellent read!! I certainly enjoyed every little bit of it. I've got you saved as a favorite to look at new things you postÖ


    June 29, 2021 at 00:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. RV Repair Shop Near My Location

    You need to take part in a contest for one of the highest quality blogs on the internet. I most certainly will recommend this blog!


    June 29, 2021 at 01:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Mercedes Sprinter Repair Shops


    June 29, 2021 at 02:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Camper Repair Places Near Me

    I truly love your blog.. Excellent colors & theme. Did you develop this website yourself? Please reply back as Iím looking to create my own personal blog and would like to find out where you got this from or exactly what the theme is called. Many thanks!


    June 29, 2021 at 02:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. RV Repairs Nearby

    Having read this I thought it was rather enlightening. I appreciate you taking the time and energy to put this information together. I once again find myself spending way too much time both reading and posting comments. But so what, it was still worthwhile!


    June 29, 2021 at 02:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. RV Repair Huntington Beach


    June 29, 2021 at 08:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Promaster Van Conversion Shop Near Me


    June 29, 2021 at 09:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. RV Repair Seal Beach

    You need to take part in a contest for one of the finest sites on the web. I am going to recommend this blog!


    June 29, 2021 at 09:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Coachmen Van Repair


    June 29, 2021 at 11:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. RV Repairs Nearby


    June 29, 2021 at 12:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. RV Repair Shops Near My Location


    June 29, 2021 at 12:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. chauffeur prive monaco

    Today, I went to the beach with my kids. I found a sea shell
    and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said "You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear." She put the shell to her ear
    and screamed. There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched
    her ear. She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is entirely off topic but I had to tell someone!

    Also visit my site: chauffeur prive monaco

    June 29, 2021 at 12:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. RV Repair Around Me


    June 29, 2021 at 13:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. https://thuocladientu123.com

    Best view i have ever seen !


    June 29, 2021 at 16:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. https://thuocladientu123.com

    Best view i have ever seen !


    June 29, 2021 at 19:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Sprinter Rust Repair


    June 29, 2021 at 20:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Mercedes Sprinter Chasis Repair


    June 30, 2021 at 00:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Sprinter Repair Near Me

    Hi, I do believe this is an excellent site. I stumbledupon it 😉 I will return once again since I book marked it. Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be rich and continue to guide other people.


    June 30, 2021 at 02:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Rust Repair Sprinter

    You've made some good points there. I looked on the net for additional information about the issue and found most people will go along with your views on this website.


    June 30, 2021 at 02:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Sprinter Repair Shops Near Me

    This is a topic that is close to my heart... Best wishes! Where are your contact details though?


    June 30, 2021 at 04:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. RV Repair California

    There is definately a lot to learn about this subject. I love all of the points you have made.


    June 30, 2021 at 04:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. RV Repairs Nearby

    This blog was... how do I say it? Relevant!! Finally I've found something that helped me. Appreciate it!


    June 30, 2021 at 10:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. RV Repair Shops Nearby


    June 30, 2021 at 11:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Company Van Repair

    Having read this I believed it was very enlightening. I appreciate you taking the time and energy to put this short article together. I once again find myself spending way too much time both reading and leaving comments. But so what, it was still worth it!


    June 30, 2021 at 11:41 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.

June 2011
  • An error has occurred, which probably means the feed is down. Try again later.