ChooseMyPlate.Gov – With such a wide range of diet information available it can be hard to choose the best approach for you. It seems that every year there is a new fad diet, while the tried and true methods of healthy eating fall by the wayside. One of these tried and true methods is the USDA’s Food Pyramid.
The USDA Food Pyramid is something most of us have probably seen. It is a triangle divided into six sections at different levels, depending on how much a person needs per day. At the bottom we have six to eleven servings of grains. This includes breads, pastas, cereal, and ride. The next level is split between fruits and vegetables. Veggies get between three and five servings, while fruits should be two to four. Next up is another level split between dairy and protein. Dairy can be milk, yogurt, and cheese (two to three servings) and protein can come from meat, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, or nuts (two to three servings). Finally, at the top we have fats, oils and sweets, which should be used sparingly.
Recently, the USDA has actually abandoned the Food Pyramid in favor of their new infographic “My Plate.” The plate is divided into four quadrants with vegetables, fruits, grains, and protein each getting its own section. Dairy is also included above the plate where a glass of milk might sit. The vegetable and grain sections are slightly larger than the fruits and protein areas, meaning we should consume slightly more of the first two.
There has been quite a bit of controversy over both the Food Pyramid and My Plate. For one, neither gives much information about serving sizes. The pyramid mentions the number of daily servings, but fails to note how big one serving is. At the same time, My Plate does not look at servings at all. Rather, it is up to the eater to estimate how much of their plate is apportioned to each group.
Another major worry about the Pyramid and Plate is that neither has anything to say about the important role exercise plays in overall health. Certainly diet is quite important, but exercise has a major part in creating healthy bodies. At the same time, strictly following the pyramid can still lead to weight gain. Products like sugary cereals, low-fat ice cream, and pizza could easily be consumed daily.
Finally, some worry about the influence the different food industries have on the FDA and USDA, by which these guides are created. The grain (especially corn), meat, and dairy industry are highly subsidized by the federal government and the government is lobbied quite hard by their representatives. With such a volume of research coming out that explains how too much animal protein can be very hazardous to our health, it leads us to wonder why the government would advocate for a diet so strong in these products.
This is not to say that the Food Pyramid and My Plate are bad ideas and should not be considered. When followed with serious effort, they can be beneficial. What is most important is to choose whole-foods as much as possible. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables instead of fruit juices and French Fries, choose whole-wheat bread instead of white, and limit animal proteins. Following these rules will lead you to a healthier, happier life. And don’t forget to exercise!
ChooseMyPlate.Gov – Kyle Lambert is a writer, vegetarian, and cook. After years of helping friends and family make the switch to plant-based diets he decided to create a website dedicated to the lifestyle. Focusing on vegetarian recipes and cooking, Kyle hopes to educated people interested natural health. Find his full website dedicated to How to Cook Veggies [http://www.howtocookveggies.com] and How to Cook Frozen Vegetables [http://www.howtocookveggies.com/how-to-cook-frozen-vegetables-2/].