We’ve all heard of the “Food Pyramid” and seen various iterations of it. As a baby boomer, you probably even remember before it was a pyramid. (In fact, the “Food Pyramid” didn’t even exist until 1992!) Over the years, there have been numerous objections to every version of the USDA’s dietary suggestions—dating all the way back to the 1920’s. Arguments against the food pyramid have been posed regarding the influence of various food industries, bad science, and just a general misunderstanding & lack of clarity in the use of the pyramid.
The food pyramid, as most of us understand it, has a big base of grains, topped by a split of fruits & vegetables, which is topped by dairy & meats, then with fats, oils & sweets at the very top. Most nutritionists are quick to point out that lumping fats, oils & sugars all together doesn’t work—there are essential fats, oils & sugars. Likewise, the meats/proteins groups lumps good, lean proteins with high fat proteins that are less beneficial for us. And at the bottom of it all, the pyramid has bread, cereal, rice & pasta without clarifying that there are good grains & grains that, in the quantity they’re recommended, will cause serious health issues and obesity. Additionally, doctors have speculated that anywhere from 6% up to 50% of Americans have sensitivity to gluten – so they can’t eat many of those items anyway. And up to 60 % of adults are lactose intolerant (i.e. allergic to milk and dairy products), so that portion of their protein diet has to be acquired elsewhere.
One of prominent opinion & opposition to the food pyramid is this: Every body is different—and a cookie-cutter guide like the pyramid can’t work for all. The goal for nutrition is not to obey an outdated summation of dietary needs, but to be well nourished by what is consumed. Foods & drinks should contribute to our health, not detract from it. There are many resources available that can help you guide dietary decisions & unlearn the food pyramid that we’ve been taught for so long. Always experiment to find the right diet for you (everyone’s different!), but here are a few helpful dietary resources:
- The Healthy Eating Plate from the Harvard School of Public Health
- The American Heart Association’s Heart-Healthy Tips & Resources
- HelpGuide.org’s Eating Well Over 50 tips
At this point, even the USDA has swapped out the archaic pyramid in exchange for myplate.gov, an expansive site that talks about proper nutrition, physical activity and weight management.
As you’re pursuing health & fitness, learn what it means to be well-nourished—and to enjoy it, too! With the endless ocean of healthy eating information in the public domain, it can be a culinary adventure to learn new recipes and tips & tricks to help you focus on a healthy diet.
What foods have you discovered to help you run like a well-oiled machine? What foods have you discovered that disagree with you the most? Share your experiences with food in the comments section below, or tell us on Facebook.