The Healthy Eating Pyramid
Some 20 years ago the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) created a
visual representation of what an adult American should be eating: the
Healthy Eating Pyramid. The Healthy Eating Pyramid structure was a
stroke of genius. The shape and the manner in which the food was
represented indicated that some foods were good and should be consumed
in larger quantities while some were important but should be eaten in
lesser quantities. Towards the peak of the Healthy Eating Pyramid were
food that should be consumed the least.
This simple visual guide conveyed in a flash the main elements of a
healthy diet. Those of us who went to an American school in the late
80’s would remember this Pyramid. There were countless media articles
and brochures on the subject but then it is doubtful many of us even
remember all that now.
About five years ago, the USDA re-launched the Healthy Eating Pyramid
renaming it ‘MyPyramid’. This time they made it into an online
interactive kind of thing. While the attempt was good, it is still far
from perfect. The re-launched Healthy Eating Pyramid Guide while better
than the previous one still failed to convey adequate information to
help people make the right food choices. Also, it continued to recommend
foods that according to most nutritionists should not even be on your
As an alternative to the government’s somewhat flawed Healthy Eating
Pyramid Guide, the Harvard School of Public Health did a fresh study and
came up with the Healthy Eating Pyramid that you see here.
The Healthy Eating Pyramid designed by Harvard School of Public
Health is based on scientific evidence that links the food we eat to the
state of our health. This new pyramid fixes fundamental flaws in the
USDA pyramid and offers sound information to help people make better
choices about what to eat.
The Healthy Eating Pyramid Explained
At the bottom of the Healthy Eating Pyramid they have indicated a
diet of daily exercise and weight control because these two elements
strongly influence your health.
Weight change = calories in – calories out. In other words, if you
utilize as many calories as you consume then your weight will remain the
same. If you consume more number of calories then it the excess is
stored as fat. Exercise helps not only keeps your muscles toned it helps
you burn any excess calories you might have consumed.
As we move up the Healthy Eating Pyramid, we encounter ‘Whole
Grains’. These are the main source of carbohydrates (energy) for your
body. Excellent sources of carbohydrates include oatmeal, brown rice
and whole wheat bread. On the same level are ‘fats and oils’ and
‘vegetables and fruits’. Fats are extremely essential to our body.
Healthy fats are found in olive oil, soy, corn, canola, peanut,
sunflower, nuts, avocadoes, seeds and fish such as salmon.
You will find detailed information on each of the food items
mentioned in the Healthy Eating Pyramid Guide in other articles on this
There is something important that you need to note about the Healthy
Eating Pyramid designed by Harvard School of Public Health; the Healthy
Eating Pyramid does not state how much you should be eating. This is an
important deviation and they explain it by stating that the Healthy
Eating Pyramid is not meant to be a rigid road map. Also, the amount of
food consumed should depend on the person’s body size and physical
activity. The Healthy Eating Pyramid designed by Harvard School of
Public Health is meant to be a simple, flexible guide as to the food
that should be on your menu.