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How to Have a Balanced Diet: Breaking Down the 2018 Food Pyramid

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

In 1992, the United States Department of Agriculture released the Food Guide Pyramid, a pyramid graphic that helped individuals learn how to eat better and live a healthier lifestyle. In 2005, the pyramid was replaced with MyPyramid and was based on new research in food needs. The pyramid was widely recognized as a tool for nutrition education. Information was provided as to what kind of foods should be eaten each day as well as the amount. Today, the USDA offers a new option for healthy eating known as MyPlate.

With MyPlate, information is provided to help individuals develop a healthy eating style. Because everything we eat and drink matters, it is important to put the right mix into the body for a healthy future. Individuals should focus on the variety, amount and nutrition value. Foods and beverages should be consumed that include less saturated fat and sodium as well as added sugar. It is recommended that individuals start with small changes to build up to a healthier eating pattern.

The Original Food Pyramid

When the food pyramid was first introduced in 1992, it consisted of six groups. The bottom of the pyramid was the largest serving size and consisted of bread, rice, cereal, and pasta. This group included 6 to 11 servings of these items. The next level consisted of the Vegetable Group and Fruit Group. With veggies, it was recommended that 3 to 5 servings are provided each day while the Fruit group was 2 to 4 servings. The next level included the Milk, Cheese, and Yogurt Group as well as the Meat, Fish, Poultry, Eggs, Dry Beans, & Nuts Group. Both of these groups required 2 to 3 servings.

The last group, at the top of the pyramid, was the Fats, Oils, and Sweets. In this group, it was recommended that the items are used sparingly. Individuals were to follow this pyramid in order to enjoy a healthy lifestyle.

Today’s Food Pyramid

The food pyramid of today shows something a little different when compared to 1992. The bottom level consists of Fruits and Veggies, with these categories involving the most servings. Veggies should be 1 to 3 cups per day based on age range and sex. Fruits should be 1 to 2 cups per day based on age and sex. Next up is the Carbohydrates section, which is also known as grains. Daily amounts will range from 3 to 8 ounces based on age and sex of the individual.  Protein/Dairy is broken down into 2 to 6 ounces of protein and 2 to 3 cups for dairy.

Healthy fats are included and are needed to promote a healthy lifestyle.  Healthy fats can be found in nuts and seeds and other items. Based on age and gender, 2 to 7 teaspoons should be consumed each day. Sweets remain the smallest category and should be consumed sparingly.

The MyPlate site of the USDA provides information on how much of each category should be included in the daily diet for individuals, including information for babies, children, adult men, and women. It is important for everyone to get the right amount of nutrition to promote good health. When you take great care in eating right and consuming quality foods and beverages, you feel better overall. Your health can easily improve, and you will experience a greater future without the added risk of health issues due to diet.

When comparing today’s food recommendations to that of years gone by, a major difference is the number of carbs consumed. Today, many individuals have a gluten allergy which means carbs cannot be consumed as they normally would. Many individuals have seen an improvement in their overall health by lowering the amount of carb eaten each day or cutting carbs altogether.

Before making any dietary changes, it is important to consult a physician. Your doctor will be able to make diet and nutrition recommendations based on your individual health needs. Working with your physician can ensure that you eat and drink the right items, providing your body with the nutrients needed for proper health overall.

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