If your body can’t handle dairy, wheat, eggs, nuts or soy, following the MyPlate guidelines is tricky. (Jennifer Bardsley)

If your body can’t handle dairy, wheat, eggs, nuts or soy, following the MyPlate guidelines is tricky. (Jennifer Bardsley)

Have a food allergy? MyPlate’s recommendations aren’t for you

The USDA’s guidelines don’t account for potential allergens like dairy, bread and eggs.

This is my fifth column in a row writing about food, groceries and the USDA’s MyPlate guidelines. If you’re sick of reading about MyPlate, think about my poor husband who’s taken to nodding his head and mumbling “Is that so?” whenever I bring it up.

But the reason the topic fascinates me both as a mother and an American is because the price of food impacts everyone. We eat 1,095 meals a year. If there are USDA home economists analyzing how to shave costs and improve nutritional value, then I want to know what they recommend. But are their guidelines trustworthy?

Here’s what a 2,000 calorie MyPlate day from their sample two-week menu plan includes: 6 ounces of grains, 2½ cups of vegetables, 2½ cups of fruit, 3 cups of dairy, 5½ ounces of protein and 6 teaspoons of oil.

MyPlate also suggests eating 8 ounces of seafood and 1½ cups of dark green vegetables a week. It has no weekly goal for fruit juice, but allows ¾ cup a day of the fruit quota to be fulfilled with juice.

Does the average American child want to eat two servings of fish per week? Is only 1½ cups of leafy green vegetables per week enough for optimal health? Should reconstituted apple juice count as a replacement for eating an apple? These are serious questions I have, along with the big one: What about people with food allergies?

MyPlate offers a paltry 378 words of help for people with allergies and other medical conditions. Food allergies are a big deal, and MyPlate barely mentions them. If you can’t handle copious amounts of dairy, gluten and eggs, then their sample two-week meal plan would be useless.

Why don’t they have sample meal plans for people with allergies? Or alternative nutritional guidelines for people with food intolerances? My guess is this is an example of MyPlate being unduly influenced by the political forces that surround it.

MyPlate is one piece of a larger puzzle that includes the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, the National School Lunch Program and the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 (also known as the 2018 Farm Bill).

According to Northwest Harvest, 1 out of every 8 Washingtonians relies on food aid, and half of those people are children. Americans should analyze MyPlate because hungry children are counting on those guidelines being nutritionally sound.

Last month’s USDA Cost of Food at Home chart said that the average American family of four spent between $149.90 (the thrifty budget) and $298.30 (the liberal budget) per week on food. MyPlate offers easy-to-follow ways to shave costs and improve nutrition. However, its reliance on potential allergens like dairy, bread and eggs don’t work for everyone.

I wish there really were unbiased home economists in a food lab studying ways to help me save money, but that seems like a fantasy. When it comes to food, everyone has an agenda, and MyPlate is no exception.

Jennifer Bardsley publishes books under her own name and the pseudonym Louise Cypress. Find her online on Instagram @the_ya_gal, on Twitter @jennbardsley or on Facebook as The YA Gal. Email her at teachingmybabytoread@gmail.com.

Learn more

Read Jennifer Bardsley’s original MyPlate on My Budget articles from 2013:

www.heraldnet.com/life/can-a-family-eat-thrifty-and-healthy-lets-find-out/

www.heraldnet.com/life/the-challenge-of-eating-by-the-usda-guidelines/

www.heraldnet.com/life/myplate-on-my-budget-good-food-costs-money/

www.heraldnet.com/life/eating-well-on-a-budget-is-one-tough-recipe/

Explore resources available from the USDA:

www.choosemyplate.gov

www.fns.usda.gov/cnpp/usda-food-plans-cost-food-reports-monthly-reports

www.choosemyplate.gov/budget-sample-two-week-menus

Talk to us

More in Life

The hardy fuchsia “Voltaire” is one the few fuchsias that can take full sun all day. (Nicole Phillips)
Eight perennials to add to the garden for summer-long enjoyment

July is a great time to fill in those blank spots with long-blooming perennials. (Yes, it is OK to plant in the summer.)

Kate Jaeger played Gretl and Kevin Vortmann was Hansel in Village Theatre’s “Hansel Gretl Heidi Günter,” which was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Tracy Martin / Village Theatre)
COVID-19 curtain drops on a Village Theatre original musical

The lead actor in the canceled show says his disappointment pales next to that of the 10 young actors who were cast in the production.

PUD program now helps 10% more customers pay their bills

Changes to the PUD’s Income Qualified Assistance Program ensure more people will get the help they need.

Museum invites you to add your colors to vintage Northwest art

The Cascadia Art Museum in Edmonds creates a project where people can color woodblock prints. The results will be displayed in the museum’s windows.

A deservedly affectionate portrait of a civil rights icon

“John Lewis: Good Trouble” traces the life and work of a truly towering figure in American history.

Why more men aren’t wearing masks — and how to change that

The four-pronged M.A.S.K. Approach just might convince mask-averse males to do the right thing.

How to confront the disease epedimic in the COVID-19 pandemic

Good health empowers us to cope better and feel better, in mind and body, during turbulent times.

Working toward Phase 3 of a Safe Start for Snohomish County

Public Health Essentials! A blog by the Snohomish Health District.

Hosta ‘Krossa Regal’ has blue foliage from late spring through early fall. In summer, tall flower spikes bear lavender blooms. (Richie Steffen)
Great Plant Pick: Hosta ‘Krossa Regal’ aka ‘Ginba Giboshi’

This hosta has blue foliage from late spring through early fall. In summer, tall flower spikes bear lavender blooms.

Most Read