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 The pyramid better resembles the traditional food pyramid that has recently been replaced by the plate, but no matter its appearance, it’s a helpful tool to better plan a well-balanced diet.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.
Before you start cooking dinners based on MyPlate, keep the size of your plate in mind and check your portion sizes. According to the Mayo Clinic, reasonable portion sizes include:
- One serving of protein should be three to six ounces (three for women, six for men) and about the size of a deck of playing cards.
- One serving of whole grains should be the equivalent of one slice of bread, 1/3 cup brown rice or 1/2 cup whole-wheat pasta.
- One serving of dairy is equivalent to an 8 ounce glass of milk or 1 ounce cheese (about the size of four dice).
- One serving of fruit and vegetables should be approximately 1/2 cup cooked or 1 cup raw.
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.
Thursday, First Lady Michelle Obama, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Surgeon General Regina Benjamin unveiled the USDA’s new food icon, replacing the confusing pyramid with MyPlate. (more…)
This morning Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and First Lady Michelle Obama unveiled the new MyPlate icon, which is replacing the food pyramid. Surgeon General Benjamin opened the remarks, explaining how the U.S. needs to help citizens lead healthy lifestyles, by giving them concrete steps towards improving their health. Besides telling Americans to cut down on sugar, sodium and saturated fats, she says she hopes the new icon will be a tool to help people understand what they can do to improve their diets.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack introduced a short video that highlighted some of the ways the new icon can help families make better choices and introduced MyPlate.gov, a website dedicated to helping Americans eat healthier meals. He described the old food pyramid as “too complex to serve as a quick and easy guide” and explains that MyPlate is a simple, visual, research-based icon built on the 2010 dietary guidelines.
The recognizable food pyramid has been a symbol of proper eating for the past 20 or so years. That symbol is now being replaced by the Obama administration with an image of a dinner plate. Many people have complained that the pyramid is somewhat complicated and confusing.
“The Food Pyramid is being replaced with a plate-shaped logo, called MyPlate, which is meant to give consumers a visual cue of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines: make half your plate fruits and vegetables,” says Mary Hartley, RD, nutrition director for CalorieCount.com. “Unlike previous USDA food guides, the new logo focuses on foods to eat at a single meal rather than over the course of an entire day.”
The current food pyramid has actually been criticized for not conveying any useful information. First lady Michelle Obama has made ending obesity a personal platform and this new nutrition dinner plate is a pivotal change in the right direction. There are hopes that this will easily show people that half of their plate needs to be made up of fruits and vegetables. A few people have seen the new logo for nutrition, but it is not being officially revealed until Thursday.
In 2005 the US Department of Agriculture’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion made major changes to the Food Guide Pyramid. Vertical stripes replaced the building blocks to help represent moderation by the narrowing of each group from bottom to top, proportionality by the different widths of the stripes, variety by the new colors introduced, and the importance of physical activity and gradual improvement through the steps and slogan “Steps to a Healthier You”.
Recently, the USDA released new dietary guidelines for 2010, but the changes aren’t nearly as drastic. As Kelly said so well, “While it may be surprising that not much has changed since 2005 when our health obviously has, the new 2010 Dietary Guidelines show that how to eat healthy hasn’t changed, we just need to follow the guidelines now more than ever.” So just how do you follow the Dietary Guidelines for health and even weight loss? I have been teaching clients how to do this for the last five years with the help of the USDA and MyPyramid.gov.
It’s well known that eating healthy includes increased consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free/low-fat dairy products. However, even though we know we should eat better Americans still don’t do it. The American Dietetics Association provided a quick breakdown of the basic food groups, what you should eat within those groups, how many servings you should eat, and what counts as a serving.
It’s recommended to consume 3 servings a day.
What counts as a serving?
A one ounce serving equals one slice whole-wheat bread, 1/2 cup brown rice, 5 whole-wheat crackers, 1/2 cup oatmeal. (more…)
I say it often and I know you’ve heard others say it, but nutrient rich foods are key for your health and for weight loss (or weight maintenance). I recently received some information about the Nutrient Rich Foods Coalition (NRF) and decided to check out their website. In doing so, I found some great information about incorporating nutrient rich/dense foods into your diet.
What is the NRF?
The Nutrient Rich Foods Coalition website describes this group as “a partnership that brings together leading scientific researchers, communications experts and agricultural commodities. Our members are composed of 12 food commodity associations that represent the five basic MyPyramid food groups.” Meaning, this group consists of experts in each of the five food groups (milk, grains, vegetables, oil, fruits). The website offers several tools that the public can understand and incorporate into their lives with the focus being on making calories count by choosing nutrient rich foods. (more…)