The food pyramid- Is it still relevant?
A healthy nutritious diet is essential for people of all ages. For a long time the food pyramid has been the representation of a well-balanced diet. We’ve all seen the picture of the food pyramid in our biology textbooks teaching u about a healthy diet. Before we discuss the relevance of food pyramid let’s first see what the food pyramid exactly is.
What is a food pyramid?
A food pyramid is the representation of the optimal number of servings to be eaten from each of the basic food groups. The first food pyramid was published in 1974 in Sweden. Now, the food pyramid makes healthy eating easier by telling you the right amount of each food groups. There are five different food groups as we all know: carbohydrates, fat, oils, proteins, vitamins. The food pyramid has divided food into shelves, with the most important foods at the bottom and the least important foods at the top.
What’s on each shelf of the food pyramid?
At the very top are the foods rich in salt, sugar and fat and they are known as “treats”. These are the foods should be consumed only once or twice in a week.
The next shelf has foods rich in fats and oils with options such as olive oil, rag seed oil preferred over foods such as mayonnaise.
Then, we have meat alternatives like fish, eggs, etc. and they should be consumed twice a week.
Following this, we have the dairy and milk products like cheese, yoghurt. Around 3 servings are recommended per day.
The next shelf, we have the starchy foods like potatoes, whole wheat breads, cereals, etc. Around 3-5 servings are recommended a day of these foods.
The last and the bottom most shelf are the vegetables, fruits and salads and approximately 5-7 servings are recommended a day are recommended. This is the most important food group.
What is the importance of food pyramid?
The food pyramid allows you to make the right choices about your food making your diet healthier and your life better. Here are the benefits of food pyramid:
Allows you to make healthy eating choices
The food pyramid makes it easier to make better choices in terms of your diet by giving you the correct and complete information about the food groups which you should consume more of and the food groups you need to cut back on.
Serves as a daily reminder
Variety is the spice of life
The food pyramid provides you with a variety of healthy and nutritious food options belonging to a food group. It can help make your life a lot of more interesting and your meals more diverse.
Food pyramid – Indian perspective
There isn’t a specific food pyramid tailored for the Indian population but the ideal meal should consist of the following 50-60% carbohydrates, 20-30% fats and the remaining from proteins. Now unlike Americans, Indian diets are much more grain intensive thus lacking proteins which is why protein are a recommended add on to every meal.
Now that we’ve learnt all there is to know about the food pyramid let’s answer the most important question: is it relevant?
While the food pyramid has been for a long time, it is time we looked at the very obvious shortcomings of the food pyramid.
Everyone is unique
The food pyramid provides a standard meal plan for everyone assuming that all individuals are the same. It fails to acknowledge the inherent uniqueness of every individual which means that everyone has different dietary requirements. There should be a different dietary plan for every person keeping in mind their requirements after consulting a nutritionist.
Not all fats are bad fats
The food pyramid as mentioned above places fatty foods at the top of the pyramid indicating that these foods should be consumed in lower quantities. But we all know that certain fatty foods like olive oil, avocadoes, nut butters are essential and have very obvious health benefits like improved bone joint condition. This shows that the food pyramid is vulnerable to the various trends in nutrition as at the time the pyramid was designed a low fat diet was recommended. But as we all know, the healthy fats have made a comeback.
“More” grains not “whole” grains?
The food pyramid while very heavy on grains makes little too no mention of whole grains such as oats, quinoa etc. which are the ones with the varying health benefits like lower diabetes and lower risk of heart disease
So now that we’ve seen the varying flaws in the food pyramid let’s look at the alternatives.
What should you follow?
The USFDA has launched the My Plate which is the replacement of the food pyramid on June 2, 2011 ending the 19 years of food pyramid diagrams. But even My Plate has been also severely criticized for being “fat silent” recommending low fat diets which can have very serious health risk. Along with following a balanced diet it is very essential to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water daily which will not only improve your digestive health it will leave you with glowing , healthy skin and to supplement your diet with a good amount of physical exercise.
So, it is abundantly clear that while both the Food Pyramid and My Plate have their benefits and flaws they can serve as great outline for your dietary plans. Neither of these, should be rigidly followed to decide your meal plans. So it is very important to decide your meals after consulting with a professional nutritionist keeping in mind all your dietary requirements and health conditions.
Making the right choices and eating right are very important for you and if you have any confusion it is best to consult experts. You can consult experts from the comfort of your home by making use of our website.
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