Although the USDA’s Food Pyramid is not an exact diet plan, it does offer a clear guide to eating healthy. Whether you are seeking weight loss or just good general health, the Food Pyramid is an excellent addition to your design for health.
What You Should Be Eating
The point of the Pyramid is, you should be eating every kind of food that you like. Nothing is forbidden, nothing is a “bad food.” Pasta, cheese, meat, eggs, even oils are all part of a healthy daily diet. The important thing is that you should be eating them in proportion. The Pyramid wants you to focus on whole-grain starches first, such as breads, pastas and cereals. Then consume a slightly lower amount of fruit and vegetables. Even less than vegetables, you should eat protein foods, like meat, nuts and dairy. Finally oils, fats and sugars are a part of a healthy diet, but are to be eaten, as the pyramid says, “sparingly.”
There are even alternate versions of the Food Pyramid to address different eating styles. There is a vegan pyramid, and pyramids for different ethnic diets, such as the Mediterranean Food Pyramid and the Asian Food Pyramid. These all offer further options for healthy eating.
Why so Many Carbs?
Carbohydrates are represented strongly in the Food Pyramid. The 6-11 servings of whole grains, the 2-4 servings of fruit, and even in the sugar allowed at the top are all carbs. For from being the diet saboteur that some diets claim carbohydrates to be, they are in fact extremely necessary to maintain your metabolism. Carbs are the first place your body looks when it needs power. It converts to sugar in your blood, where it enters cells to be used as energy. Also, the fiber found in whole grain foods, like bread, is an indigestible carb. So it makes you feel full, while at the same time flushing your body and reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes and diverticular disease. Don’t feel guilty about the amount of carbohydrates the Food Pyramid wants you to eat. Just as they are the building block of the pyramid itself, they are the first building block of your good health.
Weight Loss with the Food Pyramid
There is a good chance that if you are struggling with weight loss, you are eating these recommended foods out of proportions. If you’re eating more servings of meat and sugar than vegetables in a day, you’re likely getting an imbalance in your nutrition. But, if you are eating according to the Pyramid and still want to lose weight, it is wise not to deviate from its basic health guidelines. It is recommended you simply reduce the number of servings allotted for food.
While the Food Pyramid proper calls for 6-11 servings of whole grains a day, the weight loss Pyramid is happy with 4 servings a day, which amounts to a small muffin, one cup of cereal, one slice bread and one half cup cooked rice. The same applies to all the other food groups. Continue to eat a variety of your favorite foods, just plan on eating less.
The Food Pyramid is all about portion control and understanding the body’s needs. It is an excellent guide to maintaining health, as well as improving it through better nutrition. If you’re unhappy with your eating habits and the results they have brought your body, take a look at the Food Pyramid and see how you stack up.