No More Food Pyramid?

Oliver Eehn headshot
Oliver Eehn
Writer, Coach & Trainer
Growing up in the 70’s I was taught “The Four Food Groups” at a cooking class in Junior High school. Yes, lots of boys took that class back in those days. Since 1916, the US Department of Agriculture has periodically issued food guides. After several revisions, in 1956 the USDA recommended its Basic Four Food Groups in its Leaflet, Food For Fitness.
toast with a cooked egg, spinach and seasoning

Then came the “The Food Pyramid”. Though developed in Sweden in the 70’s and introduced to the US in the 80’s, didn’t get adopted by the USDA till 1992. Since then, we’ve seen several revisions of the Food Pyramid and last week the USDA apparently decided to bulldoze the Pyramid with the introduction of My Plate that was unveiled by First Lady Michelle Obama. For all my social media friends I promised to give my take on this and so here it is for them and the rest of you.

If you surf around the web, you’ll come across many naysayers noting that My Plate doesn’t explain nuances and leaves too much room for interpretation. While I believe in simplifying, My Plate way oversimplified this, in my opinion.

For starters, when it comes to fruits, no distinction is made between fruit juices and fruits. If you never learned this, a cup of fruit juice is listed as equivalent to a cup of fruit. But this ignores the fact that the glycemic index (how quickly a food is converted to blood sugar) is much higher in fruit juices than in the fruit itself. Many of you know that you’re better off eating the whole fruit, as the accompanying fiber slows digestion, leading to more stable blood sugar and a longer-lasting feeling of fullness that can help prevent overeating.

In the protein department, I would not list pork, ham, or any source that comes from pig, as My Plate does. Also, while I believe that fish should play an important part of this equation, there are some species, like swordfish, that are high in toxins like mercury, while others, like sardines after being canned, can be high in sodium content. But I will say the other species on their list are good choices when choosing fish. I should also note that crustaceans (my “cheat” food of choice), though able to provide some good nutrients, can also be high in toxins.

I can point out shortfalls in the vegetable, grain and dairy sections as well. But without overcomplicating this, I just tell folks to journal their food intake for the week and then simply LOOK at it. Eating it, then reading it will offer quite a different effect. Trust me on that. If it looks horrendous on paper, then hopefully that will be motivation enough to make some changes. Some folks are motivated to not eating something if they know they have to write about it.

In summary, I still prefer the Food Pyramid, although I like the revised version where the pyramid is inverted, where the largest portions and servings are at the top. Whichever food guide one chooses to follow, I would only hope that folks just follow sensible guidelines when choosing portions and serving sizes, while consuming sweets and other “junk” foods in moderation. Wishful thinking I know, but if I can convince even a few to listen, I can feel confident that those few will experience a better quality of life. Hopefully you will be one of them. So till next time, Improve Your Health, Improve Your Life!

About the Author:
In a business that experiences a great deal of annual turnover, Oliver has remained steadfast through it all with over 20 years in business. Being fed up with all the deception and dishonesty that occurs in the Health/Fitness industry, Oliver set out to offer a no-nonsense approach to sensible wellness without all the hype and false promises that continue to abound. Oliver is a world class personal trainer specializing in custom fitness and workout programs for individuals and small groups. If you want to improve your overall health, lose weight, get into better shape, and look and feel better, contact Oliver today!
Oliver Eehn headshot
Oliver Eehn
Writer, Coach & Trainer


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