Thousands of years ago, people ate whatever they could find—roots, nuts, berries, or meat. Today, we can instantly find a huge variety of foods in the supermarket and we can afford to be more choosey. But what should we eat? How do we know which foods are most healthy?


Fun Facts

  • My Plate describes the food guidelines recommended by the United States Department of Agriculture, including how much of each type of food we should eat each day.
  • The My Plate program uses the image of a plate to help people learn how much food they should eat at each meal. Imagine a dinner plate. Half the plate should contain vegetables and fruits—with more veggies than fruit. Add a healthy serving of grain and smaller amounts of meat and dairy products. According to the USDA, eating plenty of grains and vegetables is the best way to eat healthy.
  • My Plate can help you find out how much food you should eat each day for your size and your activity level. Most kids need between 1,600 and 2,200 calories each day. Visit to find your personalized healthy diet recommendations.
  • According to My Plate, eating a diet rich in vegetables and grains is just the beginning. Try to eat mostly whole grains. Read food labels and limit foods that are high in sodium, sugar, and saturated fat—most junk foods. Make dessert and candy a once-in-a-while treat. Opt for more healthy sweets like fruit and yogurt. Don’t drink your calories: have a small glass of juice for breakfast if you like. Drink water or milk the rest of the day.

Questions and Answers

Question: Has the USDA always offered food guidelines?

Answer: The USDA first began making recommendations for children’s foods in 1916. These early guides were meant to help parents understand children’s needs and to prevent food-related diseases, such as rickets, scurvy, vitamin A deficiency blindness, and malnutrition.


Learn More

Visit My Plate for activities, videos, and more.