Fall of the Great Food Pyramid
Remember the Food Guide Pyramid? The U.S. Department of Agriculture developed it in 1992, for you nerds charming readers who enjoy these things. Eat more of food groups towards the bottom (grains, fruits, veggies) and fewer of the food groups near the top (fats & oils). So easy to understand. Why mess with a good thing, right?
Turns out, scientific research uncovered lots of boring information about nutrition, and the ol’ FGP no longer applied. The structure itself implies food groups at the top (fats & oils) hold no nutritional value, and must be minimized, if not eliminated. Smarty-pants scientists discovered the body actually requires healthy fats (mono & polyunsaturated) for glowing skin and hair. Other smart researchers determined that not all protein provides the same health benefits. For example, red meat packs tons of protein along with cholesterol and saturated (bad) fat. Chicken or fish offer leaner choices. To solve these and other issues, some genius in the USDA introduced the following rainbow disaster icon named My Pyramid:
That solves all the confusion. We understand the equal importance of every food group and now realize the merit of exercise. Everyone is happy. Except the poor elementary students who have to learn about this crazy new rainbow pyramid. Well, the grains stripe looks slightly larger than the milk stripe, so eat more of those? Fail.
Time for a complete re-do. Enter My Plate in 2011.
No more attempting to translate some vague pyramid mumbo-jumbo into actual meals. Cut straight to the chase, and design my plate, damnit. The Plate still isn’t perfect. No mention of different types of grains (whole vs. refined), the fat food group completely disappeared (remember, healthy fats do exist), and exercise vanishes again. Despite these omissions, I think My Plate offers the most applicable and idiot proof easy to understand option of the three. Presented with this image, a person can immediately compare their own plate and make changes.
After all, distilling our complete nutrition requirements into a straightforward, memorable, colorful, easy to understand, striking and attractive image can’t be that hard.
What about you, my lovely followers? Thoughts on Pyramids or Plates and their progress? Or lack thereof?
“1992 Food Guide Pyramid Graphics.” National Agriculture Library. 27 Sep 2011. United States Department of Agriculture. 14 Jan 2012. <http://fnic.nal.usda.gov/nal_display/index.php?info_center=4&tax_level=3&tax_subject=256&topic_id=1348&level3_id=5729>.
“Printable Materials & Ordering.” ChooseMyPlate.gov. United States Department of Agriculture. 14 Jan 2012. <http://www.choosemyplate.gov/print-materials-ordering/graphic-resources.html>.
“Food Pyramids and Plates: What Should You Really Eat?” Harvard School of Public Health. 2012. Harvard University. 14 Jan 2012. <http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/pyramid-full-story/index.html#Building-MyPyramid-and-MyPlate>.
Lewis, Jaye. “The Food Pyramid: Its History, Effectiveness, and Purpose.” A 2 Z of Health, Beauty and Fitness. 14 Jan 2012. <http://health.learninginfo.org/food-pyramid.htm>.