Harvard’s Healthy Eating Plate

Mastermind Weekend 1/16

Hey there!

I'm Tina

I’m the owner of Carrots ‘N’ Cake as well as a Certified Nutrition Coach and Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner (FDN-P). I use macros and functional nutrition to help women find balance within their diets while achieving their body composition goals.


An in-depth, 4-week reverse dieting course for women who feel like their metabolism has slowed down, think they might have hormonal imbalance and can’t lose weight no matter what they do.

Good morning! Happy Thursday! Let’s get right to it!


While I waited for dinner to cook last night, I snacked on some raw veggies with hummus, which I’ve decided is the best I-need-food-ASAP-snack ever for me. It’s nutritious, delicious, satisfying, and quick! Every time I cut up a (crunchy) vegetable for a recipe/meal/snack, I add the extra pieces to my veggie Tupperware container, so I constantly have fresh ones to snack on. It works great.

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On the menu for dinner: a grilled Dr. Praeger’s veggie burger.

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And sweet potato fries with ketchup.

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For dessert, I enjoyed four Cherry-Walnut Almond Flour Cookies. Mmm! I love these cookies so much!

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Healthy Eating Plate

Remember last June when the the USDA reshaped the food pyramid into a circle, calling it MyPlate? The plate was divided into four sections (fruits, grains, vegetables, and protein, with a separate circle for dairy) and was designed to help Americans build a “healthier” plate. I blogged about MyPlate in early June and most of you guys agreed it wasn’t the best guide to healthy eating.

Well, Harvard researchers also questioned the USDA’s idea of “healthy” eating and created their own Healthy Eating Plate.


The Healthy Eating Plate is based off “the best available scientific evidence and was not subjected to political and commercial pressures from food industry lobbyists.” It emphasizes a plant-based diet focused on vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and healthy proteins.

The plate is divided into six sections: vegetables, fruits, whole grains, healthy proteins, healthy oils, and water (which includes tea or coffee), and each of these categories offers specific recommendations.

Harvard addresses specific shortcomings in each category of MyPlate including the fact that the grain category doesn’t specify that whole grains are healthier than refined grains, the protein section doesn’t value healthier proteins over red and processed meats, and potatoes count as a veggie. Additionally, the USDA recommends dairy with every meal, doesn’t include advice on healthy fats, and fails to warn against sugary beverages [source].

The Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health created a great side-by-side comparison of the Healthy Eating Plate vs. the USDA’s MyPlate. It lays it all out nice and neat.

Question of the Day

What do you think of Harvard’s Healthy Eating Plate? Is it better/easier to understand than the USDA’s MyPlate?



  1. My biggest problem with the pyramid is, like you said, it’s funded by the USDA which means its subject to a lot of political bias (corn, dairy, meat). So I definitely appreciate seeing a third party’s take on healthy eating.

    Also, I almost always snack on veggies and hummus while cooking. I know I’m going to snack so why not make it healthy!

  2. My biggest problem with the pyramid is, like you said, it’s funded by the USDA which means its subject to a lot of political bias (corn, dairy, meat). So I definitely appreciate seeing a third party’s take on healthy eating.

    Also, I almost always snack on veggies and hummus while cooking. I know I’m going to snack so why not make it healthy!

  3. That’s a better plate than most I have seen, granted, I am no RD, but that’s how I feel best when I am eating!

    What’s your method for sweetpotato fries? Yours look much crispier than mine!

  4. Looks good to me. I used to be obsessed with having a perfect diet. Now I try to eat whole grains, fruit, and healthy fats with breakfast, a bunch of veggies and protein [like beans/cottage cheese] with lunch, and more veggies/grains/protein at dinner. I keep it simple, I don’t stress and brood over it, and I’m doing just fine. I’ve begun to move on from having food on my mind constantly to just…living. And I like it.

  5. I am studying at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and they focus on this a lot. There are shortcomings on MyPlate despite the fact that they remodeled the original food pyramid. I think Harvard did a pretty good job of writing the important facts that it was missing. It’s infortunate though that because of food industry lobbyists, this will probably not go too far!

  6. I like the Harvard Healthy Plate because it gives examples of what whole grains, healthy proteins, and oils are. A lot of people just don’t know. And the USDA recommends dairy/milk with every meal? Totally don’t agree.

  7. I think there is just ONE thing missing on the healthy plate. I see NO cookie section on the plate – therefore, it is crap! 🙂 Kidding of course. Seems to me like a very sensible and balanced guideline. Have a great day Tina.

  8. I like the visual of the MyPlate. As a layperson, it makes it easier for me to gauge what needs to go on my plate and how much.

    Personally though, I go by percentage on my plate: 60% protein, 30% veggie, 10% grain. 🙂

  9. I like Harvard’s clarifications. I didnt think Myplate was bad, but maybe not as specific as it should have been? Similarly, I was really excited to hear that they are now making more strict guidelines for school lunches! Did anyone else see Michelle Obama’s speech yesterday??? I hate walking into our school cafeteria and seeing Chicken Fries, Tater tots and buttered corn considered a wholesome meal…not so much!

  10. I’m not familiar with the USDA’s plate, but this one is pretty much how I try to fix our meals together. I’m made the switch to whole grains in as much stuff as possible, drink tons of water (I rarely have anything else to drink) and when putting dinner on the table I try to ensure there is more veggies than anything else.

  11. My friend sent this to me awhile ago and I like the way it is done! I don’t necessarily think that milk/dairy has to be limited to 1-2 servings a day though. I do appreciate that they limit juice and avoid sugary drinks! I think it is a good visual for eating better. The “keeping active” portion could be bigger 🙂

  12. Love the reconstructed plate you show here. While someone who is health conscious like myself (and lots of bloggers out there) can read and interpret the My Plate version, for those who are not as aware I assume it would be much harder to interpret and interpret it well. I like how this version gives a little more guidance for those that might need it.

    I never think to eat veggie burgers for dinner. Does Mal enjoy them? Brandon won’t touch them so that is why I usually save them for lunch. 🙂

  13. I trust nothing that says “avoid bacon”. 😉 I take it all into account and make sure that there’s more veggies than anything else on the plate.

  14. The healthy eating plate is fantastic! I love that it isn’t biased by the beef and dairy industries and focuses on actual science. I also appreciate that it encourages variety of proteins instead of just meat. Thanks for posting this!

  15. Interesting. I’m so glad they did this. I was SHOCKED and laughed a little when I saw the glass of milk included in the original USDA version. Money from the dairy industry, anyone?

  16. I like this plate because it’s simple and more visual, which is what I like because when you dine out, you don’t have a measuring spoon or food scale to give you an exact measurement. At least with this you can have a better visual. But I think deep down, we all know what we have to do… it’s a matter of doing it lol 🙂

  17. Politics ruins everything! The food industry should be ashamed of itself. They really don’t care about us. They want to keep us fat and sick cause they most likely own the pharmaceutical companies as well. Way to go Havard! I just wish more people could be aware of it.

  18. I never like the idea of nay food “rules” except those that are individualized for each person. Some people’s bodies need more carbs than others. Some do fine on low protein, some need more to function. I think this is a good stepping stone, but each person should figure out what’s best for them and do what’s healthy for themselves and their bodies.

  19. I think the healthy plate makes a lot more sense, although it doesn’t include a few things that though aren’t REQUIRED for healthy eating certainly are considered healthy in my book, namely some dairy (not needed at every meal, certainly – but does provide nutrients that are required) or including tofu or beans as a listed protein source…

  20. I like the Harvard plate except for the comment about potatoes. Potatoes without the added fats and with the skins are a great source of protein, vitamin C and fiber. I agree that they shouldn’t be the vegetable section but they might fit in the grains section on a limited bases.
    Also dislike the avoid bacon statement. I agree that it shouldn’t be an everyday thing but bit of crispy bacon every now and again wouldn’t hurt and it adds so much flavor to other foods.

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