Advice Column: Is the Food Pyramid Right for Everyone?

December 12, 2013 by  


By Noor H. Salem, TMO

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Question:

What are your views regarding eating by following the food pyramid precisely?

Answer:

USDA_Food_PyramidBack in 2010, the new MyPyramid became MyPlate. In the past it was emphasized for Americans to get 6-11 servings of grains, 3-5 servings of vegetables, 2-4 servings of fruit, 2-3 servings of dairy, 2-3 servings of nuts, meat, and beans, and the use of fats sparingly. The old food pyramid edges towards a “one diet fits all” which I completely disagree with. Are we supposed to force 6-11 servings of grains at the end of the day if say, we didn’t reach the amount? Can we go beyond 3-5 servings of vegetables? What happens if you skip your dairy? So many questions come into place with the older version of the food pyramid. So if you’re referring to the previous food pyramid, I’d state that it’s probably not the best tool to use to acquire a healthy diet on an individual basis. The needs of these different food groups clearly vary from one person to the next. This is why the 2010 pyramid decided to add the variations based on level of activity, age, gender, and even health conditions.
Every individual has their own needs. One person’s medicine may be another’s poison. Meaning, dairy may work for one person, and cause discomfort, even reactions in another.
The MyPlate on the other hand, emphasizes consuming lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, dairy, protein, and fats in limits. It changes based on the individual’s age, weight, gender, and physical activity. Even here though, I don’t argue that it’s a tool that would work for every single person. Filling up half your plate with “fried” vegetables shouldn’t count as a serving, and may be deceiving to some. Eating whole foods is the best route to take, whether it’s grains, vegetables, or dairy products.

For those just turning to a healthier lifestyle, the MyPlate may be a beneficial tool to an improved route. It gives an outline of what food groups to increase, and which to leave at a minimum. It’s a wonderful outline for an overall long term diet. But again, it may work for the majority, but at the end of the day, no one knows what your body requires better than yourself.

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