Food Pyramid 2020: USDA Nutrition Guidelines, Healthy Eating Nutrition Basics, Understanding the Food Groups and Simple Dietary Guide for Americans

Food Pyramid 2020

USDA nutrition guidelines: basics of balanced nutrition, food groups and easy-to-follow dietary advice for americans.

Below you will find a simple guide and instructions for the Food Pyramid, the latest developed by the USDA.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2005-2020, gives science-based guidance on food nutrition and physical exercise choices for health.

The Dietary Guidelines describe a healthy diet as one that:

  • ♥ Emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk, and milk products.
  • ♥ Includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts.
  • ♥ Is low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt, or sodium, and added sugars.

One Size

 One Size Doesn't Fit All With the Food Guide Pyramid

USDA's new MyPyramid symbolizes a personalized approach to healthy eating, nutrition, and physical activity.

  • ♥ The symbol has been designed to be simple instructions.
  • ♥ It has been developed to guide consumers to make healthy food choices and to be active every day.
  • ♥ The different parts of the symbol are described below.

Activity Symbol

Activity Symbol With the Food Pyramid (USDA Nutrition Guidelines)

Activity is represented by the steps and the person climbing them, as a reminder of the importance of daily physical activity.

Moderation Symbol

Moderation Symbol With the Food Pyramid (USDA Nutrition Guidelines)

Moderation is represented by the narrowing of each food group from bottom to top.

  • ♥ The wider base stands for foods with little or no solid fats or added sugars. These should be selected more often.
  • ♥ The narrower top area stands for foods containing more added sugars and solid fats. The more active you are, the more of these foods can fit into your diet.

Personalization Symbol

Personalization Symbol With the Food Pyramid (USDA Nutrition Guidelines)

Personalization is shown by the person on the steps, the slogan, and the URL. Find the kinds of amounts of food to eat based on your goals at

Proportionality Symbol

Proportionality Symbol With the Food Pyramid (USDA Nutrition Guidelines)

Proportionality is shown by the different widths of the food group bands.

  • ♥ The widths suggest how much food a person should choose from each group.
  • ♥ The widths are just a general guide, not exact proportions.
  • ♥ Check their site for how much is right for you.

Variety Symbol

Variety Symbol With the Food Pyramid (USDA Nutrition Guidelines)

Variety is symbolized by the 6 color bands representing the 5 food groups of the Pyramid and oils. This illustrates that all food groups are needed each day for good health.

Gradual Improvement

Gradual Improvement Symbol With the Food Pyramid (USDA Nutrition Guidelines)

Gradual improvement is encouraged by the slogan.

It suggests that individuals can benefit from taking small steps to improve their diet and lifestyle each day.

Serving Size

What Counts as a Serving Size on the Food Pyramid (USDA Nutrition Guidelines)?

Listed below are the approximate amounts that count as one serving.

Milk, yogurt, and cheese:

  • ♥ 1 cup of milk or yogurt.
  • ♥ 1 1/2 ounces of natural cheese.
  • ♥ 2 ounces of processed cheese.

Meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs, and nuts:

  • ♥ 2-3 ounces of cooked lean meat, poultry, or fish.
  • ♥ 1/2 cup of cooked dry beans, 1 egg, or 2 tablespoons of peanut butter count as 1 ounce of lean meat.


  • ♥ 1 cup of raw leafy vegetables.
  • ♥ 1/2 cup of other vegetables, cooked or chopped raw.
  • ♥ 3/4 cup of vegetable juice.


  • ♥ 1 medium apple, banana, orange.
  • ♥ 1/2 cup of chopped, cooked, or canned fruit.
  • ♥ 3/4 cup of fruit juice.

Bread, cereal, rice, and pasta:

  • ♥ 1 slice of bread.
  • ♥ 1 ounce of ready-to-eat cereal.
  • ♥ 1/2 cup of cooked cereal, rice, or pasta.

No specific serving size is given for using fats, oils, and sweets, because they should be used sparingly, and intake should be limited.

  • ♥ Try to meet all the recommended serving size amounts listed above. Your body needs them for the vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, and protein they supply.
  • ♥ Remember, the Food Pyramid is not a rigid prescription, but a valuable reference to help you eat healthy and increase the quality of your life. For the best results, use a combination of the symbols above.

Help Me

The Best Meal Plan App

Using the latest science and research, the team at offers plans developed by certified nutrition and fitness professionals. Join the calorie counter app free today.

In the News

Get your position on the beta-tester waitlist today.

The waitlist is an exclusive, limited time offer. Seats are numbered. Enter your details below today.

Risk free. No credit card needed.