The Food Guide Pyramid (FGP) was developed in the 1980s by the United States Department of Agriculture with the goal of having an easy-to-use visual to help people select a healthy diet. It was designed with the bulk of the food eaten on a daily basis being carbohydrates. The problem with this is it didn’t specify what kind of carbohydrates we should eat — refined (white bread and pastas), with virtually no nutritional value, versus whole grains that offer many more nutrients and fiber.
People who eat too many refined carbohydrates can gain weight over time. Another challenge with the old pyramid is that nobody knew for sure what constituted a serving. Portion control grew out of control, as did Americans’ waistlines and their weight. As we have found out over the years, there is not a “one size fits all” solution when it comes to eating, serving sizes and portion control.
The Past is Gone
As you can see below, the new Food Guide Pyramid looks much different than the previous one. Now, serving sizes go by Food Intake Patterns(pdf), or the amount of calories an individual should eat on a daily basis. Instead of a set amount of servings in any single food group, the pyramid now defines measurements in cups and ounces. It may make measuring a little more challenging, but once that is figured out, the portions are just right.
As you can see from the colorful new pyramid, each color represents a specific food group.
Also, you can see how the pyramid is flipped around and stairs were added to the side. This is to promote physical activity because that is such an important part of being healthy and maintaining or losing weight.
Here are some guidelines to find out how much activity you should get: How to Start an Exercise Routine That Works for You.
Variety is the Spice of Life
The Food Guide Pyramid is much more colorful than its old counterpart. This is a good reminder that variety is the key with fruits and vegetables. Adding as much color to your diet is important in getting proper nutrition as different colors of fruits and vegetables offers different nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Here is good information on how to get a variety of color in your diet: Time to Eat Right with Color.
Believe it or not, there are many different Food Guide Pyramids to fit different cultures and ethnic groups: Ethnic/Cultural Food Guide Pyramids.
Another really neat feature about the new pyramid: It allows you to customize your own Food Guide Pyramid so you know exactly how many servings should be consumed each day in each food group. Get your Personalized FGP here.
Also, parents can customize their child’s pyramid (starting at age 2), which is really cool as well:
- Preschoolers ages 2-5: Preschoolers FGP
- Kids ages 6-11: Kids FGP
- There is also a special Food Guide Pyramid for Pregnant or Breastfeeding moms.
With all of the Food Guide Pyramid information out there, it should be a breeze to learn exactly what you should be doing nutritionally, right? Unfortunately, I know that isn’t always the case. Please reach out to me if you have any specific questions, I am happy to help!