The USDA food pyramid lays out several guidelines that can help you to make healthy eating choices. The main goal of following the Food Pyramid is to teach people how to include a variety of foods into their diet so that it is balanced and includes all the food groups.
Some foods are more important to have lots of in your diet than others. By following the Food Pyramid, you are instructed on which foods to eat in moderation and which to eat plenty of. Separated into different groups by color, the Food Pyramid is a good visual illustration of how much of each food you should be getting in your diet.
Personalized Recommendations for Healthy Eating
On the USDA MyPyramid website, users are able to create a personalized recommendation that outlines the foods and amounts of each that they should be eating. This takes into account many factors like gender and age, and also has a kids’ version for younger users interested in developing healthy eating habits young. You can also use Fitday's online journal to ensure you are eating from every food group.
Using the Food Pyramid for Healthy Eating
The easiest way to use the new and improved Food Pyramid is to enter your age, gender, weight, height and activity level. The tool will quickly assess whether or not you are underweight, of normal weight, or overweight. Based on that information, it will create a personalized plan that details how much of eat food group you should be eating.
The Five Food Groups
Your results will be separated into five food groups – grains, vegetables, fruits, milk and meats and beans. All of your daily nutrition should come from these five groups:
- Grains: This group contains anything made from a grain product such as whole grain bread, crackers, rice, pasta or cereal. Of the total amount of grains you eat, at least half should be whole grains.
- Vegetables: Containing all vegetables including leafy vegetables, starchy vegetables and dried beans and peas, this group has countless options to fulfill your daily requirements. You should try to include as many dark green leafy vegetables, orange vegetables and dried beans and peas as possible.
- Fruits: The majority of your fruit intake should come from fresh, frozen, canned or dried fruit, with only a small amount from fruit juices. Choose a variety of fruits for the best health and to receive a wide range of nutrients and vitamins.
- Milk: Calcium rich foods are important for healthy bones. Choose low-fat or fat-free milk and milk products to satisfy your daily milk requirements.
- Meats & Beans: Low-fat and lean poultry and meat should make up the bulk of this group, along with fish, beans, peas, nuts and seeds.
The key to eating a healthy diet is always going to be moderation and variation. To follow the USDA’s Food Pyramid recommendations, you must eat a wide variety of foods and be particularly mindful of your portion size so that you do not consume too much of any food group.