It used to be shaped like a pyramid, to show decreasing portions of food at the top, so people would understand they should eat lots of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, represented by wide bands at the bottom of the pyramid, and only a few meats and sugar, represented by shorter bands at the top of the pyramid.
The food pyramid was redesigned in 2005, to add a figure running up the side of the pyramid to represent the importance of exercise, and to switch to bands to represent proportions.
On May 31, 2011, the USDA released a new representation of a balanced diet, in the form of a plate, called Choose My Plate.
It has pie-wedges to represent lots of vegetables and grains, smaller portions of fruit and meat and a serving of dairy to show a balanced meal. Their guidelines suggest that half of your meal should be fruits and vegetables, half of your grains should be whole grains, your dairy should be low-fat and you should drink water instead of sweet drinks.
Whole grains include whole-wheat flour, oatmeal, brown rice, bulgher, and whole cornmeal.
There is not a food pyramid in sight.
In 1992, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued the Food Pyramid in an effort to encourage healthy eating habits and reduce heart disease. I joked that they had finally put sugar into its own food group. They thought they were indicating there should be very little sugar or fat in your diet.
The plate is easier to understand. You eat your meals on a plate. Children can more easily grasp the idea of filling up half their plates with fruits and vegetables at a meal when they see it laid out on a plate, just like the desktop on a computer mimics the desktops we work on.
Although it has always been designed to reduce heart disease, these new guidelines are also in line with current thinking on diets to reduce the risk of cancer.
- Low fat
- More fiber, from whole grains
- Lots of raw fruits and vegetables (half your plate)
- Calcium (from dairy)
Now, when those grandchildren come to visit, you can relax, knowing the USDA is promoting the same good food you have always served.
To your abundant health and the health of your sweet grandchildren.
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Carol Covin, “Granny-Guru”
- Food Guide Pyramid (en.wikipedia.org)
- Why Is the Food Guide Shaped Like a Pyramid? (www.livestrong.com)
- Food Pyramid Changes to Food Plate (friendseat.com)