So Long Food Pyramid Meet the New Dinner Plate
Goodbye old food pyramid, you symbol of healthy eating for the last 20 years. Government officials are serving up a straightforward, plate-shaped symbol in its place. The plate is sliced into compartments for the basic food groups including fruits and vegetables.
The plate is intended to give consumers a quick, easy to understand reminder of the basics components of a healthy diet. It is comprised of four colored sections, for fruits, vegetables, grains and protein. Next to the plate is a circle where a glass might be, representing the amount of milk products such as yogurt that you should be having daily. The main goal of the new look is to emphasize that half of the food that we consume should consist of fruits and vegetables, portions should be smaller and that water should also be a part of the day.
Few will miss the old pyramid. Although it was easily recognizable by millions of American school children, parents and consumers, it was too confusing and because it did not differentiate between healthy foods like whole grains and fish and less healthy choices, such as white bread and bacon.
Some compare the new logo with a pie chart, though dessert is not the association that officials would like to conjure up. The new symbol is intended to help educate Americans about the government's latest dietary guidelines, which were released in January.
The U.S.D.A. said the agency would use the new plate symbol to convey several basic nutritional messages, such as urging consumers to eat smaller portions, change to low-fat or fat-free milk and drink water instead of drinks loaded with sugar.
The food pyramid has tough history. The original version displayed a hierarchy of foods, with fruit and vegetables and grains closest to the wide base, as those made up the largest portions of a recommended diet. Foods that were to be eaten in smaller amounts, such as meat and dairy, were toward the top of the pyramid.
However, the original pyramid's was not released because of complaints from the meat and dairy industry that their products were being stigmatized. The pyramid was released with minor changes in 1992.
An updated pyramid named My Pyramid was launched in 2005. It sported vertical brightly colored stripes in place of the different food groups. It also had a stick figure running up the side of the pyramid to emphasize the need for exercise.
The new pyramid was widely criticized as hard to understand. Last summer, a group of public health professionals, nutritionists, food industry representatives and design professionals were invited to a meeting in Washington where they were asked to discuss possible alternative symbols. One option was a plate.
"It's going to be hard not to do better than the current pyramid, which basically conveys no useful information," said Walter C. Willett, chairman of the nutrition department at the Harvard School of Public Health.
The old pyramid's references to sugars, fats or oils are history. Where before, there was a category named "meat and beans" is now simply "proteins," allowing for seafood and vegetarian options such as tofu.
Whatever you do, don't call it a pie chart.
For more information, see http://www.choosemyplate.gov/.
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