The food pyramid Is something we all should follow and yet we don’t. We know all about the food pyramid because we learn It In school (at least) I did. Today I am going to talk about the food pyramid for beginners and I am going to break It down for you. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to comment or email me.
If you are Interested In reading yesterday’s post about the F.I.T.T method here Is the link so you can check It out ~~~> F.I.T.T Method
If you are new to clean eating here Is a post I did on how to shop the perimeter of the grocery store (It’s a must read It will help you save money on your grocery bill.) If you are Interested In reading It here Is the link to that post ~~~> Shop The Perimeter
The food pyramid was designed to offer an easy-to-understand look at healthy eating, but for the average person It’s too simplistic, vague, and sometimes way off.
Versions of the Food Guide Pyramid have been around since the late 70s, and an official U.S. Department of Agriculture version rose to common knowledge In 1992, but It’s long been the focus of some controversy, with several updates and alternatives offered over the last decade. Here’s a quick look at the history of the food pyramid and its goals, followed by some tips for how you can actually use It for better eating.
The Original Food Pyramid
The bottom of the pyramid Is the carbohydrate group, recommending 6-11 servings per day—an aspect heavily attacked by modern nutritionists. On the next level up, we have the vegetable group on the left (3-5 servings per day) and the fruit group on the right (2-4 servings per day). The penultimate level consists of the dairy group on the left (2-3 servings per day) and the protein group on the right (2-3 servings per day). All the way up top is the fat group, which you’re supposed to avoid whenever possible. The goal of the original food pyramid was to suggest a healthy diet that would be easy for anyone to follow.
- Breakfast: A bowl of cereal with milk, an apple or banana, and two pieces of toast with butter (1 serving of dairy, 1 serving of fruit, 2 servings of carbs, and little fat).
- Lunch: A lean turkey sandwich with cheese, some cut carrots and celery, a bag of mixed nuts, and a plum (2 servings of protein, 1 serving of dairy, 1 serving of carbs, 1 serving of vegetables, and 1 serving of fruit).
- Dinner: Grilled chicken, peas and carrots, salad, and a slice of zucchini bread (1 serving of protein, 2 servings of vegetables, and 1 serving of carbs).
In total that gets you:
- Carbs: 4 servings
- Fruits: 2 servings
- Vegetables: 3 servings
- Dairy: 2 servings
- Protein: 3 servings
This Is where you might start to see some problems. With this amount of food In a single day, you’d have no trouble getting six servings-worth of carbohydrates. Nonetheless, It only works out to four servings, which Is two under the minimum. On the other side of the equation, this set of meals shows the correct number of servings of protein but doesn’t account for the additional protein you get through dairy (for example). It doesn’t account for all sorts of things, like the high carbohydrate content found in beans or all the dairy that sneaks Its way Into so many foods and sauces, homemade or manufactured. It also doesn’t account for many Important variables, such as your sex, your height and healthy weight, your daily activity, how different bodies have easier or harder times processing certain foods, and more. The original food pyramid was a nice thought, and It’s not way off, but It’s definitely not a sufficient tool for anybody’s “Diet”.
Since the first food pyramid came out It since has been revised many times to keep up with the always changing food Industry. The amounts of certain things change. This Is why there Is so many confusions because there are the nutritionists who follow the old food pyramid and there’re nutritionists who follow the new food pyramid the one thing that they can agree with Is that the daily amount of servings of fruit Is the same.
If the original food pyramid felt slightly confusing and incomplete, you now have a fully fledged “Diet” puzzle. This food guide pyramid Is actually pretty much the same as the old one, except It’s harder to read. This pyramid revision Is not so much about what’s changed, however, but more about what’s been added. The figure climbing the steps was designed to represent the physical activity necessary to healthy living. Each category also gets a little more specific, such as the grains category suggesting that at least 50% of all grain Intake consist of whole grains something people already knew It was just added to the food pyramid.
Problems: Here’s where things continue to be problematic. I will start with carbohydrates as an example. The USDA food pyramid is based on a 2,000 calorie (per day) diet and recommends about half of those calories come from carbs. (Technically It’s 45-65% for adults. The USDA’s daily recommended Intake (DRI) of carbohydrates Is 130 grams, but If you have about 1,000 daily calories coming from carbohydrates (per day) you’re looking at more along the lines of 250 grams of carbohydrates (1 gram of carbs = 4 calories). “Diets” recommending lower carb Intake generally suggest 80 grams of carbohydrates per day, so some believe that even the lower figure of 130 grams Is a bit high. The amount of discussion over this particular figure Isn’t so much to suggest that the food pyramid Is wrong for everyone, but that a person’s particular needs can vary based on a lot of factors. It’s hard to put stock In something designed to represent everybody In a large, diverse country.
The food pyramid when through a rebuilding phase In the early 2000’s. It rebuilt category of food Into more specific category. If you use to see one food Item at the bottom of the pyramid It might’ve made It’s way to the middle or even the top. What’s Important In this revision Is that It distinguishes between types of foods that were previously In the same groupings, but could have very different effects on a person’s “Diet”. For example, white grains are now separated from whole grains, as current findings point to whole grains as the healthier option. This probably Isn’t new Information to most people reading this, but It’s of concern when this Information is neglected from the official USDA food pyramid.
Food pyramids break up macronutrients Into more specific categories. Problem Is, you don’t necessarily eat a whole zucchini as part of your meal. Take a turkey sandwich, for example. Eating one of those could end up giving you a serving of protein (the turkey), a serving of dairy (a piece of cheese), and a serving (or more) of carbohydrates (the bread), but It also varies If you’re swapping contents and toppings In and out. If you’re cooking, try to stay on top of everything that goes Into that particular dish. It’ll help you know the Impact on your body once you eat It, but It’ll also help you understand what can be added or subtracted to make the meal healthier. While you don’t necessarily want to give up cooking, uncooked and unprocessed whole foods can make a great contribution to a healthier diet.
When choosing foods you want to eat, you’re never going to know the full list of nutrients it provides. You can, however, get to know the main pros and cons of certain foods. For example, plums are high In fiber, and black beans are high In protein and carbohydrates. A burrito Is a good real-world example of why this Information Is Important. Let’s say you’re building a burrito and you’re deciding what to put Inside. You start with a tortilla, add beans, and then add rice (among other potential ingredients). Every one of those items provides a significant number of carbohydrates. Using Chipotle as an example, those three Items would provide you with 90 grams of carbohydrates. That’s not an unreasonable amount for a single day, but It’s a lot for a single meal. Knowing which foods are good sources of which nutrients can help you make better decisions when choosing your servings.
I’ll be honest and I have said this again and again. Everybody Is bodies Is different. We all eat according to our nutrition and fitness goals. For me, I eat accordingly to my food allergies and sensitivities. I also try and stay away from animal products as much as possible. With all those factors you might eat more carbs one day and less protein this next. There are people who follow the food pyramid religiously and It works for them and that Is fine. For me, however, I say you’ll learn what you need to eat more of as you learn what works for you for the long run.
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