Is it time for the eating pyramid to retire?
We all remember a poster with the food pyramid from the biology classes. At the very bottom, which means that we have to consume the most often, are placed grains, a little bit above them are vegetables and fruits, the honorable third place goes to dairy, poultry, and meat, and finally, the top is filled with the least recommended products to eat during the day – sweets, oils, and saturated fat. The mentioned pyramid was introduced to the public back in the 70s, but the real question is, is it really possible that the traditional eating pyramid did not change during five decades?
Limitations of the eating pyramid
From the past decades gathered medical researches, public health, and nutrition industry experts have concluded very clear flaws and limitations of the traditional eating pyramid:
- Recommended servings. In the traditional eating pyramid, it is indicated that during the day a person should consume: 6-11 servings of grains, 3-5 servings of vegetables, 2-4 servings of fruit, 2-3 servings of dairy and meat, and lastly, 0-1 serving of sweets or fat. Dietist A. Kendall points out that it is highly unclear what is meant by a serving – it can be understood as a plate when in reality, a slice of bread could make up to 3 daily servings.
- Vegetables and fruits are the new champions of the plate. Experts agree that grains should not be the foundation of eating habits. The main reason why the grains were put there is carbs as they are necessary for energy. However, a person can get carbs from vegetables and fruits. Additionally, they are packed with vitamins and minerals, unlike most grain products.
- Not all fats are bad. For a long time, people had a fear of saturated fats because medical research tried to tie the relationship between saturated fat consumption and obesity, coronary, and heart diseases. Although in 2014 published Harvard School of Public Health article called Dietary fat and heart disease study is seriously misleading shows faulty research methods. Expert W. Willett emphasizes the importance of the source of saturated fat. For instance, bad sources would be fast food, pizza, palm oil (they lack nutritional value and are packed with empty calories), and good fat sources are avocados, olive oil, nuts, and seeds. From the good sources absorbed saturated fat are beneficial to the body: it supports the membrane of the cells, helps to regulate weight and the immune system.
Meet the new eating pyramid plate
About 10 years ago, public health scientists started revamping the traditional food pyramid structure. In fact, they decided to retire the pyramid and introduced it in a plate shape. The newly introduced USDA healthy eating plate is very clear and easily incorporated into the daily routine. According to it, more than ¼ of the plate should be packed with vegetables, whole grains, and the chosen protein source (for example, fish should fill half a plate in equal parts, and the remaining space should be left with fruits. Next to the plate, there are two smaller dishes: one with healthy oils (packed with good fat), and the other with a glass of water. Dairy products are highly recommended to avoid or at least limit to the minimum.
It is possible for eating standards to change in the future, but looking from today’s point of view, the healthy eating plate is far more superior than the traditional pyramid. The healthy eating plate leads people towards more balanced and nutritious eating habits packed with vitamins, fiber, and minerals. Additionally, there are clear sizes of servings (you can learn more from the provided sources below). The only downside – very few people have heard about the healthy eating plate. However, I really hope that we will start seeing in classrooms the posters with the eating plate instead of the traditional pyramid.
Help from Daily Spoon front
Daily Spoon is ready to help to fill your eating plate with nutrition. Our superfood blends are packed with lyophilized vegetables and fruits that have kept all the vitamins and minerals. Additionally, our blend for Energy has hemp seeds which are a wonderful source of plant-based protein. Check out our blends for your desired needs!