When the USDA revised its official dietary guidelines for optimum health in June, nutrition experts generally agreed that MyPlate was better than the Food Pyramid that preceded it. Some, including Marion Nestle and researchers from Harvard, had quibbles with MyPlates' exact specifications -- some said that meat and dairy were over-emphasized -- few said that following the guidelines, especially on fruit and vegetable consumption, would be a bad thing.
But even if it's healthy, it doesn't look easy. The recommendations call for Americans to eat around three cups of vegetables and two cups of fruits every day. That's a lot! Almost two whole cups of produce per meal. It always seems like eating as many whole grains, fruits and vegetables would necessitate eating a lot more food than normally seems wise -- if not more calories.
And, indeed, a new study from the NPD Group shows that, even if MyPlate's recommendations are healthy and easy to understand, they aren't being followed by many Americans. The Group looked at long-term data on American eating habits and found that most surveyed individuals came close to meeting the USDA's nutritional guidelines on only 2% of days in a year. That's about a week out of the year.
The group's threshold for "came close to meeting the nutritional guidelines" wasn't even that high: someone had to eat just 70% of the guidelines to count as a yes. Moreover, the days on which the guidelines were met were also those on which the Americans ate the most.