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Health Food Pyramid Basics - Savior or Failure?

Posted May 01 2009 11:35pm


Benjamin Disraeli once remarked: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” Similarly, there are three kinds of people who will find the health food pyramid an interesting topic to peruse through for reasons that I will attempt to decipher.

The first kind are the ‘hypochondriacs’… yes, the ones who can’t do without a routine, a clock and a set list of tasks that have to be completed for the day. And with regard to food, the ones who watch what they can’t eat and manage it effortlessly too.

Yes, the ones who would go by the book and rely on statistical analysis to stay healthy. And well, too much analysis causes paralysis sometimes… so there!

And I admire these guys just up to the point where someone says that they’re lactose intolerant… and all I’d like to do then is perform a colonoscopy with a wooden cooking spoon.

The second kinds are the ‘neither here nor there’ kinds… the bulimia victims of our civilization… their life seems to consist of cycles where binging gives them great pleasure followed by depression and guilt and a sense of feeling ‘bloated’… and then of course, they treat their bodies like an Italian circus using laxatives (with suspiciously sounding names that could do with a few more vowels and a lesser number of consonants especially Ks, Qs, Zs and Xs in them) and God knows what not to… of course, purge…since they’re on the highway to hell! Damned lies, I tell you!

These guys confuse me… Well, they inhabit the same world where some people barely earn enough to make one square meal… and in other extremes, don’t even manage that!

And the third kind, are the ones who don’t seem to comprehend the idea of ‘setting limits’ when it comes to food… the ones with the double chin… for whom the one-size-fits-all is a way of life… and most definitely, were the ones who were caught with their hands in the cookie jar in their youth! And they will ‘lie’ as if their life depended on it, to satiate their inner cravings for ‘more’.

These guys are my favorite (yet I don’t enjoy indulging that much)… as they’ll always be who they are… they seem to be the most happy as long as they get what they want! And God forbid if you lay your hands on their precious snacks… and all hell will break lose!

My preference lies with both extremes, yet I won’t judge the followers of the middle-path as you’d truly understand ‘bulimia’ only if you experience it. It’s just that it’s such a waste of food! And maybe I’m not supposed to understand some things after all…

Regardless of whichever category you fall under, there comes a time in your life when you will have to take action in maintaining optimum health… a point where you will say: This has to stop! No more! But until then… whatever makes you happy!

So, read on if you’re at that point… you’ll be the better for it (well, I’ve learned it the hard way too).

And I’m sure there will be some of you who will go off on a tangent with Moses, Pharoahs and Isis and Osiris with the mere mention of the word ‘pyramid’, so before that happens, let’s get down to business.

Health Food Pyramid Basics

Health Food Pyramid

Health Food Pyramid

If you look at the structure, the foods mentioned at the bottom of the pyramid are the ones that you should eat the most, and the ones at the top are the ones that you should eat (or include in you daily diet) the least.

Grains – Eat at least three ounces of this food type [whole grain bread, rice, pasta, cereal and crackers) every day, and make sure that you find the word whole before the word, ‘grain’ before you eat it! [6-11 servings a day] These foods are carbohydrate and low-fat foods.

Vegetables & Fruits – Keep your preferences to dark green and orange based veggies as well as dry beans and peas! [3-5 servings] Go easy on fruit juices and stick to fresh, frozen, canned or dried fruit, while being careful in choosing a variety of fruits in your diet. [2-4 servings]

Dairy & Beans, Eggs, Lean Meat and Fish – For dairy-based products, choose low-fat or fat free and the specified limit is about 2-3 servings a day. If you don’t or can’t consume dairy products, find other calcium-based foods. For beans, eggs and meat-based foods choose low-fat. Grilling, Broiling or baking it are better options in this case and choose nuts, beans, fish, nuts and seeds for variety rather than just meat! The limit for this section of the pyramid is 2 to 3 servings.

Fats, Oils and Sweets – This is the section that you should watch out for! Keep the consumption level low for these foods that are based on these items. Period!

Now, these are general guidelines and so if you want a personalized plan, log on to http://www.mypyramid.gov/mypyramid/index.aspx and enter your details such as age, sex, weight, height and physical activity… and voila, you’ll have a customized plan that spans all the sections of the pyramid.

And it doesn’t matter which section you belong to, you’ll find that maintaining a balanced diet isn’t tough at all!

So, what are your thoughts on the controversial Health Food Pyramid, love it or hate it?

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