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. RV Collision Repair California


    June 11, 2021 at 19:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Luxury Van Repair Shop Near Me

    That is a very good tip especially to those new to the blogosphere. Simple but very precise informationÖ Many thanks for sharing this one. A must read post!


    June 11, 2021 at 19:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. 2006 Sprinter 3500 Repair Near Me


    June 11, 2021 at 19:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. RV Motorhome Repair

    I was able to find good information from your blog posts.


    June 11, 2021 at 21:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. https://www.yamatocosmos.com

    Best view i have ever seen !


    June 12, 2021 at 02:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. rv storage orange ca


    June 12, 2021 at 06:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. RV Generator Los Angeles

    This site really has all of the info I wanted about this subject and didnít know who to ask.


    June 12, 2021 at 06:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Sprinter Van Paint Shop Near Me

    I have to thank you for the efforts you have put in writing this site. I'm hoping to check out the same high-grade content by you in the future as well. In truth, your creative writing abilities has encouraged me to get my own, personal blog now 😉


    June 12, 2021 at 06:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Frightliner Sprinter Repair Shop


    June 12, 2021 at 06:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Dodge Sprinter Fuel Injector Repair


    June 12, 2021 at 07:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. hyundai dealership near me

    After looking at a few of the blog articles on your site, I truly like your way of writing a blog. I book-marked it to my bookmark website list and will be checking back soon. Please visit my web site too and let me know what you think.


    June 12, 2021 at 15:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. outback steakhouse near me


    June 12, 2021 at 15:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. xfinity store near me


    June 12, 2021 at 16:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. bait shop near me

    Having read this I thought it was really enlightening. I appreciate you spending some time and effort to put this article together. I once again find myself spending a lot of time both reading and leaving comments. But so what, it was still worth it!


    June 12, 2021 at 18:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. indeed jobs near me

    Can I simply say what a relief to discover somebody that genuinely knows what they are discussing on the net. You definitely know how to bring a problem to light and make it important. More and more people need to look at this and understand this side of the story. I was surprised you aren't more popular because you most certainly have the gift.


    June 12, 2021 at 18:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. jiffy lube near me

    I used to be able to find good information from your content.


    June 12, 2021 at 19:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. gun shows near me


    June 13, 2021 at 00:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. vape stores near me

    You should take part in a contest for one of the greatest websites online. I most certainly will highly recommend this site!


    June 13, 2021 at 01:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. kitchen supplies near me


    June 13, 2021 at 06:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. https://www.songmanhits.com

    Best view i have ever seen !


    June 13, 2021 at 07:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. publix near me

    May I just say what a comfort to discover an individual who genuinely knows what they are talking about over the internet. You actually realize how to bring a problem to light and make it important. More and more people need to read this and understand this side of the story. I was surprised that you aren't more popular given that you most certainly possess the gift.


    June 13, 2021 at 09:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. chevy dealer near me

    Very nice article. I certainly appreciate this site. Continue the good work!


    June 13, 2021 at 10:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. camping near me


    June 13, 2021 at 10:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. 7 eleven near me


    June 13, 2021 at 13:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. breweries near me

    You have made some decent points there. I checked on the net for more info about the issue and found most people will go along with your views on this website.


    June 13, 2021 at 14:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. fish market near me

    Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you writing this post and also the rest of the website is really good.


    June 13, 2021 at 17:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. pools near me

    Hi, I do think this is an excellent web site. I stumbledupon it 😉 I may return once again since i have book-marked it. Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be rich and continue to help other people.


    June 13, 2021 at 18:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. dog training near me


    June 13, 2021 at 18:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. wing stop near me

    Hi there! This article could not be written any better! Looking at this article reminds me of my previous roommate! He always kept talking about this. I am going to send this information to him. Pretty sure he will have a very good read. Many thanks for sharing!


    June 13, 2021 at 19:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. auto body shop near me


    June 13, 2021 at 23:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. gun stores near me

    Right here is the right blog for anybody who wants to understand this topic. You realize so much its almost hard to argue with you (not that I actually would want toÖHaHa). You certainly put a new spin on a subject which has been written about for decades. Excellent stuff, just wonderful!


    June 13, 2021 at 23:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. muffler shop near me


    June 14, 2021 at 00:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. top e-juice

    Way cool! Some extremely valid points! I appreciate you
    penning this post and the rest of the website is extremely

    June 14, 2021 at 01:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. http://www.oxfordpublishing.biz

    Every weekend i used to visit this site, for the reason that i want enjoyment, since this this website conations actually fastidious funny data too.

    June 14, 2021 at 01:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. dq near me


    June 14, 2021 at 04:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. storage unit near me

    I was able to find good information from your blog posts.


    June 14, 2021 at 06:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. smiths near me

    Having read this I thought it was very informative. I appreciate you spending some time and effort to put this content together. I once again find myself personally spending way too much time both reading and commenting. But so what, it was still worth it!


    June 14, 2021 at 09:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. mechanic near me


    June 14, 2021 at 12:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. dodge dealership near me


    June 14, 2021 at 17:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. paintball near me

    This is a topic that's close to my heart... Thank you! Where are your contact details though?


    June 14, 2021 at 18:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. RV Repair Orange County California

    You're so cool! I do not think I've read anything like that before. So great to find another person with some unique thoughts on this subject. Really.. thank you for starting this up. This web site is something that is required on the web, someone with a little originality!


    June 14, 2021 at 21:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Nearby RV Repair

    Hi there! This blog post could not be written much better! Going through this article reminds me of my previous roommate! He always kept preaching about this. I am going to send this information to him. Fairly certain he will have a very good read. I appreciate you for sharing!


    June 14, 2021 at 21:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. RV Repair Shops Near Me Now


    June 14, 2021 at 22:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. RV Repairs Near Me

    I absolutely love your website.. Pleasant colors & theme. Did you build this amazing site yourself? Please reply back as Iím planning to create my own website and would like to find out where you got this from or exactly what the theme is called. Cheers!


    June 14, 2021 at 22:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. https://www.yamatocosmos.com

    Best view i have ever seen !


    June 14, 2021 at 22:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. RV Repair Garden Grove


    June 14, 2021 at 23:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Sprinter Repair Orange County

    I enjoy reading through a post that will make men and women think. Also, thank you for allowing me to comment!


    June 15, 2021 at 03:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. RV Repair San Clemente California


    June 15, 2021 at 04:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. RV Repair Fountain Valley


    June 15, 2021 at 07:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Nearest RV Repair

    After I initially left a comment I seem to have clicked on the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on each time a comment is added I get four emails with the same comment. Perhaps there is a way you are able to remove me from that service? Thanks a lot!


    June 15, 2021 at 07:20 | 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.