Food Pyramid Goes Flat

pHion Balance  |  0 Comment

If you like pie, you’ll love the USDA’s new food guide. Ok so, you can’t eat all of the pie you want, but the full-bodied (and mighty flat) food guide now looks more like a pie than one of the pyramids of Ancient Egypt. The folks behind the new design (First Lady Michelle Obama included) call it a “plate,” but just for fun, I think we can call it a pie. It’s even divided into four hearty pieces!

You don’t have to peer at the pie for long to notice a number of significant changes. Not only has dairy completely lost its platinum status in the upper tiers of the old pyramid, it’s been reduced to nothing more than a side dish. Some might argue that dairy is even optional with the addition of soy milk to the category. And here’s something many might not know—most soy milk products have more calcium and vitamin D than good old fashioned cow’s milk.

One of the reasons dairy lost its status is the high fat and calorie content. Other issues associated with dairy consumption such as bloating, constipation, and all-out lactose-intolerance are just a few others. Other forms of fats, oils, and sweets have been banished from the pie as well. However, good fats/oils such as olive oil and fish oil are included in USDA food patterns, but you still won’t find them listed in any piece of the new pie.

Here’s what you will find—fruits and vegetables occupy 50 percent of the plate, and the other half consists of grains and proteins. This means at every meal, half of your plate should consist of fruits and vegetables and the other half should be a combination of grains and healthy proteins—so ditch the deep fryer.

If you must include dairy, the USDA says: Most Dairy Group choices should be fat-free or low-fat. Foods made from milk that retain their calcium content are part of the group. Foods made from milk that have little to no calcium, such as cream cheese, cream, and butter, are not.

As for the groups that made the plate, you’ll find so many options that will help you meet the USDA’s daily recommendations you’ll lose count. The fruit group includes everything from appetizing American staples such as apples, bananas, and strawberries to exotic edibles such as the African cucumber fruit, mangosteen, and star fruit. With so many choices, it’s impossible to get bored, so get out there and explore.

The vegetable group offers the same overabundance of options ranging from healthy American bites such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and beets to unusual fare such as fiddle-head ferns, fresh ramps, and taro root. The USDA recommends the following foods from the protein and grains groups:


Brown Rice, Bulgur, Oatmeal, Whole Cornmeal, Whole-Wheat Flour


Beans and Peas, Eggs, Lean Cuts of Red Meat, Game Meat, and Ground Meats, Nuts and Seeds, Poultry, Seafood, Shellfish, Soy Products

It’s best to strictly limit or eliminate refined grain products from the diet. White flour, white bread, white rice, and de-germed cornmeal are just a few. Refined grain products undergo a procedure called “milling.” During the process, bran and germ are removed, giving grains a finer texture and a longer shelf life. Unfortunately, milling also removes essentials such as dietary fiber, iron, and many B vitamins.

Portions are key to maintaining a healthy diet. Keep food in moderation and you will have success.

Here's to your wellness,


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