For the first time, plant-based eaters have a food pyramid that suits their dietary needs. A new vegetarian and vegan diet pyramid was released by Oldways in response to the growing popularity of meatless diets. The pyramid is an updated version of the one created in 1997 and places more emphasis on fruits and vegetables than the original.
Foods are broken down into categories, much like with the traditional food pyramid. Whole grains have the most recommended servings, with 5-8 per day, followed by vegetables (4-6 servings), and fruits (3-4 servings). Beans, peas, lentils and soy make up another level of the pyramid, then nuts, peanuts, seeds and peanut/nut butters. Finally on the top levels are herbs, spices and plant oils, and eggs and/or dairy.
“It’s beautifully illustrated, and one of the most astonishing things to me is if you put your fingers over the top, it’s vegan,” said Oldways president Sara Baer-Sinnott in an interview with the Huffington Post. “In the past, we didn’t really account for vegans. Personally, I love cheese. But here, there’s not much difference between vegan and vegetarian.” (more…)
Although the newly released MyPlate icon is a great tool for many, it’s not specific for any single population. For individuals who are looking for more in depth and culturally specific food recommendations, useful tools similar to the MyPlate icon are becoming available.
The most recent addition is the New African Heritage Diet Pyramid. The pyramid better resembles the traditional food pyramid that has recently been replaced by the plate, but no matter its appearance, it’s a helpful tool to better plan a well-balanced diet.
Individuals of African American decent may find this pyramid particularly useful. As diabetes, obesity, and heart disease are not true components of African American heritage, Oldways and a team of experts have developed this new pyramid to appropriately identify ways to incorporate foods from traditional diets of the African Dispora in a way that promotes nutritious eating and healthy living.
By Jill Buonomo
Many people grew up learning to base their food choices on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Pyramid, which was recently reinvented as MyPlate. The updated guidelines, communicated via a simple, color-coded graphic, are focused on proper portions of the four major food groups. The plate is divided into sections for proteins, grains, fruits and vegetables — with a glass of milk beside it representing the dairy group.
But does it go far enough? The researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health and Medical School didn’t think so. They’ve created their own guidelines, dubbed the Healthy Eating Plate. The Harvard guidelines are presented as a more specific alternative to the USDA’s MyPlate; an option based on science and created without any political or commercial pressures from food industry lobbyists.
The Harvard Difference
The Healthy Eating Plate is similar to USDA’s MyPlate in that it’s a colorful and graphical representation of a healthy diet. But it goes much further in terms of distinguishing healthy choices within each food group.
For example, a vegetable is not a vegetable in the eyes of the Harvard nutritionists. While the vegetable section is the largest, they suggest forgoing potatoes (and by extension, French fries) altogether. Likewise, whole grains are recommended over refined options like white rice and white bread. (more…)
With the recent announcement that the food pyramid will be replaced by the new MyPlate icon, Americans are more aware than ever that it’s time to start eating their vegetables.
While the plate icon offers a visual, user-friendly guide to help people make better food choices, some of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines, like eating more fish, beans and whole grains, are not addressed.
Cheryl Forberg, RD is a James Beard Award-winning chef, New York Times best-selling author, and nutritionist for NBC’s “The Biggest Loser.” Her latest book is “Flavor First,” which can find out more about at Flavorfirst.com. You can follow her on Twitter @cherylforbergrd.
Why were nutritionists so happy when the USDA announced the food pyramid was dead?
When the USDA in 1992 released the food pyramid we’ve all become familiar with, many nutritionists voiced concerns with the diagram. The large base of bread, cereal and grains just gave the impression that you were supposed to eat so much more from that group. Encouraging people to eat so many grains and carbs, nutritionists argued, paved the road to an obesity epidemic.
The original pyramid had long been unpopular and in 2005 it was replaced with a new logo called MyPyramid, a nearly impenetrable glyph depicting a stick figure running up steps on the side of a vertical striped pyramid. Sensitive to fears that the hierarchy of the original could lead to an improper balance, the USDA abstracted the image and turned the breakdowns on their side. The running figure was meant to to remind people that exercise was an important component of proper diet and nutrition. Too bad nobody paid much attention to the essentially meaningless graphic.