The food pyramid was issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the early 1990s as part of a program to encourage the growth of healthy eating habits from a young age. From the outset schools that were keen to introduce healthy eating habits from junior school level upwards embraced it. We all accepted that USDA had produced a new key to guide us in how to eat healthily and start the battle against obesity from a young age. Time has since taught us that the Food Pyramid was based upon some unsound scientific data and the Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health has since corrected the base knowledge by using up to date scientific data that has now replaced the original Pyramid. On a personal note I think the original Food Pyramid was great and a definite step in the right direction. This new approach is based upon more accurate scientific data and is therefore better to use.
The Five Food Groups
Fruits: Eat a variety of fruits rather than fruit juices for most of your fruit needs. Apart from fresh fruit you can also use canned fruit, dried fruit or frozen fruit. But try to have at least one item of fresh fruit each day.
Vegetables: Dark green vegetables are especially good for you; spinach, broccoli and kale lead the way together with any other dark leaf greens. Orange vegetables should also form a major part of your diet: Carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin and winter squash. Don't forget beans and peas such as kidney beans, pinto beans, black beans, split peas and lentils.
Calcium foods: You need at least three cups of fat free or low fat milk each day. You can substitute an equal amount of low-fat yoghurts or cheese. One and a half ounces (42.5 grams) of cheese equals a cup of milk.
Grains: Minimum three ounces (85 grams) of whole-grain cereal. This can be substituted by pasta or rice. 1/2 cup of pasta or rice equals 1 cup of whole-grain breakfast cereal. Harvard School of Public Health suggests that you should read the content labels to be sure that grains such as wheat, rice, oats and corn are referred to as "whole".
Proteins: Choose only lean meats and poultry and it is preferable to bake, broil or grill it. You can vary your protein intake with fish, beans, peas, nuts and seeds.
A healthy diet requires a daily intake from each of the five food groups listed above. It also requires that you eat in moderation and should never eat until you feel full. It takes around twenty minutes for your stomach to get the full message to your brain. It is this time lapse that is to blame for the majority of cases of obesity. Today many of the top dieticians are advocating that you eat more meals each day rather than less. For instance, if you eat six small meals each day with a controlled calorie intake you are less likely to eat too much at any meal. This is far more helpful to losing weight than taking 3 meals each day and being so hungry when you sit down that you eat until the brain gets the message that you are full because that is already too late and the damage will takes months to undo.
This article is © copyright David McCarthy 2005. It may be reproduced in its entirety with no additions.