The Healthy Eating Pyramid is a visual representation that has been used for the last 20 years of the five food groups and the relative amounts of each that we should eat on a daily basis. It can be found in various forms, but in one version, the wide base of the pyramid is made up of the Bread, Cereal, Rice and Pasta Group, the group from which, according to this theory, we should get the most servings, while the tip of the pyramid is the Fats, Oils and Sweets Group, from which we should get the least servings. The Dairy/Protein and Fruit and Vegetable Groups show up in the middle of the pyramid.
Another depiction of the pyramid, designed by the USDA, divides food into six groups - Grains, Vegetables, Fruits, Dairy, Meat/Beans and Oils. In this diversion, the pyramid is divided from top to bottom into these groups with Grains taking the largest slice, followed by Vegetables, Dairy, and Fruits, then by Meat/Beans, with a small slice designated for Oils.
The USDA has now abandoned this model for a less complicated concept that they simply call "MyPlate." Instead of a pyramid, "MyPlate" visualizes a healthy diet with a representation of a dinner plate divided into four parts for Protein, Vegetables, Fruits and Grains, with a side of Dairy.
A picture of your diet
Regardless of the design, the purpose of the healthy eating pyramid is for you to be able to see a snapshot of your diet. Without being too precise, if you are generally eating more grains (particularly whole grains) and fruits and vegetables than you are the other foods, and if you are including fewer fats and added sugars, you are probably on the right track toward healthy eating.
Unfortunately, for many of us, our healthy eating pyramid is somewhat top-heavy. This means that you may be getting most of your calories from fats and sweets, which has contributed to the rise of obesity and Type II Diabetes in the U.S. It may also be implicated in the rise in heart disease and certain cancers. Fortunately, we can help to reverse this trend by simply educating ourselves and become aware of what we eat.
Dr. Andrew Weil, a Harvard-trained physician and botanist, and a proponent of Integrative Medicine, has put a new twist on the concept of the healthy eating pyramid. Since inflammation seems to be at the heart of most illness and disease, eating an anti-inflammatory diet may help prevent health problems. To that end, Dr. Weil has developed his "Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid."
Healthy Eating Plan
The Food Pyramid is a useful tool for planning a healthy diet. The goal of all healthy eating plans should be (1)to eat a variety of fresh, whole foods, with a focus on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats, (2)to eat all foods in moderate amounts, and (3)to limit foods that have no real nutritional value.
To your good health!
It is my hope that as you pursue a healthy eating lifestyle, you will feel better and also discover some tasty new foods that will enhance your menu plans and give you the energy and vibrant health to live life to the fullest.