Do you remember instilling the information of the food pyramid into your brain during elementary school? Back then, nutrition felt like a scientific formula: if you eat equal servings of dairy and meat, and equal servings of fruit and vegetables (plus even more of a helping from the bread/whole grains group), you’ll live a healthy life. Today, the pyramid has changed—simply because, what we know about these food groups have changed. In this article, we’ll discuss just how much they have changed, and what makes for a healthy, well rounded, and vital body and mind.
The Old (At a Glance)
The old food pyramid suggests that to be healthy, you need to eat 2-3 servings of dairy, 2-3 servings of protein (like meat, beans, eggs, etc.); 3-5 servings of vegetables, 2-4 servings of fruits, 6-11 servings of bread, cereal and pasta (!) and oil sparingly.
Oh, how times have changed!
It seems everywhere you look, health food experts are weighing in on the benefits of less grains and gluten, and how consuming a high protein diet is one of the best way to lose weight and increase energy. Too much dairy has become a problem for many people’s digestion track, and too much consumption of simple carbs (found in pasta, rice and processed cereals) have contributed to the obesity epidemic, while healthy oils like olive oil is one of simplest and healthiest ways to cook your meats, stir-fry’s and baked fish dishes.
The New Food Pyramid
The five food groups are described as the following: grains, fruits, vegetables and protein (which are fairly equal in serving size) and dairy (which is less than the others.) In terms of serving size for the fruit, vegetable, protein and grain groups, there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ like there used to be. Why? Because each person—male or female—has unique needs based on their height, weight, gender and activity level. For example, someone who works out for two hours a day needs more protein and carbs than someone who sits at a desk for ten hours a day.
Whereas whole milk used to be the only option when the old food pyramid was created, the choices of milk today seem as varied as types of greens to eat. From low-fat milk to almond milk (for those who don’t want or can’t have any dairy in their life), one cup per day is the most common recommendation for most people. Protein is another food group that has changed, and more foods are included in their category including: eggs, soy products, and an emphasis of lean protein (as opposed to fatty cuts of meat that were on the old pyramid).
It’s easier than ever to eat well with the new MyPlate.com updated nutritional plan. Make sure you know what to put on your plate with information about each food group, interactive quizzes and tips (to make sure you and your family stays on track!)