We have learnt about the food pyramid quite a long time back and many people may not remember the concept. Healthy eating is nothing but the act of eating the right foods that provide the right nutrients that are required by your body to maintain it in a healthy way. The food pyramid is one of the ways by which one can ensure that no effort is required in healthy eating. It is divided into a number of sections and each section is representing a specific food group. The section also shows the recommended intake for each individual. The higher amount of food consumption is placed at the bottom of the pyramid while the smaller intake of foods is shown at the top.
The first pyramid:
The first food pyramid was introduced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the year 1992. This was done after they performed extensive consumer research on the eating patterns. It was reconstructed in the year 2005 and it has been then replaced by a plate model during 2011.
Importance of food pyramid:
Food pyramids provide a visual example of the types of food that must be consumed during any day. Most of the people are not aware of nutrition and diet and so a graphical representation ensures that people can understand their dietary needs. There is a healthy balance of different food groups and any person must ensure that they are consuming every item in the quantity prescribed by the pyramid. When a certain type of food is left out then that can result in malnutrition. Such recommendations of the food pyramid are basically to reduce the chances of chronic disease while focusing on the improvement of the overall health.
The food pyramid is different for the different country. The recommendations are mainly affected by the environmental aspects. As for example, dietary recommendations can be influenced by societal beliefs, food accessibility, culture and evolution. Nation-wide problems also influence the food pyramid. The obesity epidemic has spread to many countries and the government has recognized the problem that needs to be monitored and help people in managing their health.
There are more food groups for some countries and they also focus on different types of calorie consumption. There might also be specific language that suggests the number of recommended servings per day. Some others also suggested the consumption of certain types of foods while restricting the consumption of other foods.
The food pyramid is also formed based on the medical condition of an individual. For example, a person with diabetes is not recommended to follow the general food pyramid. Instead, they are advised to follow such diet that can reduce the blood sugar level. Some guidelines are also suggested for conditions such as high cholesterol level, high blood pressure and heart disease.
In some countries, the food pyramid is not followed. Rather a circle graphic is being used to show the guidelines. The plate shows how much is required to be consumed from each food group. Such a graphic is being used in countries such as USA, UK, Sweden and Spain.
Let’s discuss the advantages of food pyramid:
Variety: the main focus of the food pyramid was on consuming a balanced diet from the five main food groups: grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy and other proteins (eggs, nuts, fish, meat and beans). In each of the groups, the recommended servings per day were mentioned. It focused on the fact that it is healthier to include a variety of foods in your diet than focusing on any one or two of the groups.
Limits: The top of the food guide showed fats, sweets and oils while recommending them in the range of 100-300 calories per day. Even though the fat found in olive oil is healthy for the heart, most of the Americans consumed sweets and fats in excess that might affect the heart negatively.
Understandable: The food pyramid provides a clear-cut guidance which is very easy to understand. With the use of the pyramid, the USDA implied the foods at the bottom of the pyramid as good and it should constitute most part of the people’s diet while the foods near the top were considered bad and they must be avoided.
Reminder: the food pyramid helps you to stay on track by getting the recommended daily requirements. The food pyramid will remind you to eat healthfully while reminding what you have eaten and what you have not eaten and that is to be included in the next meal.
Is the Food Pyramid Still Valid?
The food pyramid has a few flaws. The very first includes the overemphasis on grains. Gluten is considered as the source of many problems in the recent days. It cannot be said that gluten is entirely bad rather gluten must not be consumed as suggested by the food pyramid. The food pyramid supports high carb but low-fat foods.
Good fats are required by our body on a regular basis but you can find such foods at the top of the pyramid terming them as ‘use sparingly’. For examples, olive oil, seeds and nuts contain mono saturated and polyunsaturated fats that are healthy for an individual. The food pyramid also suggests the consumption of dairy as a mainstay. However, the recommended daily consumption might not be a good idea for every individual. The link between dairy consumption and strong bones is overhyped rather increasing the amount of Vitamin D consumption can ensure strength in bones eliminating the negative effects of dairy.
However, the food pyramid focuses on balance which is vital for any kind of diet. The nutritional guidelines must be shifted with health-related needs and personal aspirations. One must consult a nutritionist in case you think there is an allergic reaction or intolerance. The diet should vary based on the individual as the needs and demands are different. There is always room for improvement in your diet irrespective of what it is now. For more such health-related articles, do visit our website.