Arrivederci, Pyramid…Benvenuto, Plate!

Remember the food pyramid that symbolized a healthy diet for about 20 years?  The first Food Guide Pyramid was announced in 1992 and included the six food groups piled up in the shape of a pyramid with the number of recommended servings someone should eat from each group in a day.  The pyramid was wider at the bottom to point out that most of our diet should be made of grains, fruits and vegetables.  The narrowing of the pyramid was a reminder to consume fewer foods high in sugars and fats.  The old Food Pyramid looked like this:

In 2005, the Food Guide Pyramid was replaced with MyPyramid, a more abstract triangle made of fun colored stripes of different width and a stick figure climbing stairs, to represent the importance of physical activity.  And it looked like this:

Today we’ve replaced the pyramid to a plate.  In fact, few weeks ago, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and First Lady Michelle Obama unveiled MyPlate.  I think this new change was done at the right time, not only as a reminder to adopt healthier eating habits, but also as a wake-up call for Americans in a time when more than one-third of children and more than two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese.  The new “My Plate” has four colored sections, representing fruits, vegetables, grains and proteins and a glass on the side of the plate that suggests dairy and other healthy beverage choices.  The vegetable and grains portions are slightly larger.  “The goal of the new icon is to simplify nutritional information, Michelle Obama said. “When it comes to eating, what’s more useful than a plate?” she asked. “It’s a quick simple way for all of us to be mindful of the foods we’re eating. She said kids still need to be active and that parents still need to be vigilant on making good food choices.” 

In general, I like this “MyPlate” idea, after all we eat off plates, not pyramids or triangles=D

  • I like the fork symbol that suggest to use utensils to eat your food, instead to devouring it straight from a box or a bag.
  •  I like the way the plate is divided, where basically shows that each meal should includes, fruits, vegetables, protein of some kind, grain, and dairy it adresses everyone.  So even if you are vegan or vegetarian you can still follow this.  For example; replacing animal protein for a plant-based source; or  the dairy with soy, coconut, rice or almond sources.
  • The plate remind you to use a standard dinner plate instead of a platter!  It stresses the importance of enjoying your food eating less, and avoiding oversized portions.  The portion sizes in the US are 2 and sometimes 3 times bigger than in Italy.  I remember the first time I went to a restaurant in Boston, I couldn’t believe the amount of food in my plates.  But, what most shocked me was my friend asking for a
    doggie bag!  “Really?? ” I said. “Do you have a dog?”  Ha ha
  • Half of your plate should be maid with fruits and vegetables.
  • Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.
  • Drink water instead of sugary drinks like soda.  I strongly  believe it’s the best thing Americans could do for their health; stop drinking calories people!
  • The pyramid concept was not so simple to interpret, especially for kids.  I think that the plate is a much more simple graphic representation of dividing up your food choices is an easier concept for young kids to understand.

There are few things I miss from  the pyramid though.

  • In the new plate the fat is not mentioned and we all know that runners need to have some fat in their diet.  So, I would just keep in mind to add one or two servings per day of fat, choosing more unsaturated fats such as sunflower, canola, corn, soybean, and safflower oils; and mononunsaturated fats such as olives, olive oil, nuts, seeds, avocado, and guacamole.
  • Most if all I miss that funky stick figure climbing the stairs of the old pyramid.  Because we all know it’s not only about what and how much we eat but also how much and how often we MOVE.  The program does strongly encouraged to exercise everyday but I still miss the graphic representation of it!

So keep active, and aim for a healthy variety of foods at each meal!  I hope this bold move to change the guideline will eventually result in a healthier America.

What do you think of the New Food Plate ?

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