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USDA Ditches Pyramid

Posted Jun 08 2011 1:53pm
Last week, the USDA unveiled it's new "Food Plate", to replace the old Food Pyramid. 
New Food Plate

Old Food Pyramid

So what's the big deal? Well, I for one am impressed by the mindset change, and I like that the graphic is more user-friendly. I remember the Pyramid in it's really REALLY old form from when I was a kid, and while I got the general idea of it, I don't think many people paid much attention to it in their food shopping and eating habits (They obviously updated the Pyramid since I was a kid, and eventually settled on the one pictured here. I believe the person stepping up the side is meant to represent physical activity). I think the new icon is a simpler answer to the question: What should I put on my plate? If you click on the different food groups on the plate on the USDA's website , you get directed to a link that describes each food group, provides options, and recommends the percentage of the food group that should be on your plate. 
Things that irk me: The recommendation of juices under "fruit", and the inclusion of things like white bread, white rolls, etc under grains. Dairy, I think is totally optional and not necessary at a meal. There is also no distinction between red meat and white meat/fish, and no real mention of fats/oils. In this case, some people may be led to believe a plate with steak, white rice, canned peas, and canned peaches is nutritionally equivalent to one with fish, wild rice, steamed asparagus, and an apple. 
Take home message from me: Try to get the freshest food possible in it's most whole form. Choose protein that has less saturated fat, and try non-animal proteins like quinoa, beans, and lentils. Fill most of your plate with fruits and veggies, and count the fruit as your dessert. All in all, eat smart and eat things that make your body feel good.
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