Food Pyramids and Plates: What Should You Really Eat?
Introduction: The Best Guides to a Healthy Diet
Nearly two decades ago, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) created a powerful icon: the Food Guide Pyramid. This simple illustration conveyed in a flash what the USDA said were the elements of a healthy diet. The Pyramid was taught in schools, appeared in countless media articles and brochures, and was plastered on cereal boxes and food labels.
Tragically, the information embodied in this pyramid didn’t point the way to healthy eating. Why not? Its blueprint was based on shaky scientific evidence, and it barely changed over the years to reflect major advances in our understanding of the connection between diet and health.
The USDA retired the Food Guide Pyramid in 2005 and replaced it with MyPyramid—basically the old Pyramid turned on its side, sans any explanatory text. Critics lambasted the symbol from the get-go for being vague and confusing. So in June 2011, with great fanfare, the USDA replaced its much-maligned MyPyramid with a new simpler food icon, the fruit-and-vegetable rich MyPlate.
The good news is that these changes have dismantled and buried the original, flawed Food Guide Pyramid and its underwhelming MyPyramid successor. The bad news is that the new MyPlate icon, while an improvement over the Food Guide Pyramid and MyPyramid, still falls short on giving people the nutrition advice they need to choose the healthiest diets.
As an alternative to the USDA’s nutrition advice, faculty members at the Harvard School of Public Health built the Healthy Eating Pyramid. It resembles the USDA’s old pyramids in shape only. The Healthy Eating Pyramid takes into consideration, and puts into perspective, the wealth of research conducted during the last 20 years that has reshaped the definition of healthy eating.
Now it’s time to translate that research to your dinner plate: the Healthy Eating Plate. Just as the Healthy Eating Pyramid rectifies the mistakes of the USDA’s food pyramids, the Healthy Eating Plate fixes the flaws in USDA’s MyPlate. Both the Healthy Eating Pyramid and the Healthy Eating Plate are based on the latest science about how our food, drink, and activity choices affect our health.( MyPyramid, MyPlate, My My...Collapse )