Although the food pyramid has now been replaced by “MyPlate” and many consider food pyramid guide to be a relic of the past, most dietitians still consider food pyramid to be relevant and that time has not taken away the basic concept of the food pyramid which was, healthy eating.
The only problem with the food pyramid was that it was a bit difficult to understand (at first glance) by lay people.
The USDA created the concept and design of the food pyramid in 1992. The graphic was called a “pyramid” for obvious reasons – it looked like a pyramid. The food pyramid was divided into six sections – each for one food group.
In 2005 the design underwent some changes and the revised food pyramid was called “MyPyramid”. Unfortunately, if the earlier food pyramid was difficult to understand by lay persons, the revised graphic was all but impossible to understand.
The scientists and nutritionist soon realized that the revised food pyramid was not getting the message across and so a new effort began; this time at creating a graphic that was understandable by the layman. The new graphic released in June 2011 was called “Myplate”.
Now we have two graphics – the new nice looking, easy to understand but too simplistic “MyPlate” and the old informative, logically sound but bit difficult to understand food pyramid.
As mentioned earlier, the food pyramid was divided into six sections one each for Carbohydrates, Vegetables, Fruits, Oils, Dairy and Meats. The height (or volume) of each section was directly proportional to the quantity to be consumed. So groups that needed to be consumed more were allotted larger sections within the food pyramid. So breads, cereals, rice and pasta were at the bottom of the food pyramid occupying the largest section of food pyramid. Next section was for veggies and fruits together occupying about a third space less than the bottom group. The next section (smaller again by one-third), was dairy products and meats. Finally, the smallest section i.e. tip of the food pyramid was occupied by oils and sweets.
There, that was easy enough to understand wasn’t it? However, a graphic has no space for explanations hence the unpopularity of the food pyramid.
Technically, the food pyramid is far superior to the new “Myplate” graphic which some dieticians have labeled as the “dumb graph”.
Visually, the food pyramid was meant to depict ratios between food groups. Thus, bread, pasta and cereals should occupy 40% of the space on your plate. Fruit and veggies together should occupy 30%, milk and meats about 20% and oils and sweets the remainder 10%.
Between the old food pyramid graphic and the new MyPlate graphic, the ratios as represented by the food group colors have undergone a minor change
and the number of food groups too have been brought down to five (instead of six as shown in the food pyramid). Irrespective of which graphic you choose to follow, both lead to the path of enlightened diet and good health.
The important thing is that both the food pyramid and MyPlate are all about healthy eating!