Friday, June 3, 2011

The Collapse of the Food Pyramid

Yesterday the USDA unveiled their new food guide. Previously, the recommended food pattern for Americans was represented by a pyramid. However, as you'll read in the all the news articles, many found the pyramid confusing. Take a look below:

The new "food guide" is based on a plate model - something that I have used extensively in teaching healthy eating principles to clients. The idea behind the plate model is that it is less abstract, so it's easier to translate healthy eating recommendations into practice. Take a look below for the new guide, also known as "MyPlate."

A pretty simple principle, really. Load up half your plate with fruits and vegetables, then finish off with a protein source and some whole grains on the other half. Top it all off with a glass of milk or alternative, and you've got a balanced meal. Does this sound like something you do at home? I hope so, but the reality is that it's not what most people do. However, it's never too late to start.

Here are my best tips:

1) Prepare more than one type of veg if you want to make your plate half veggies. For example, cook a vegetable, such as asparagus, and then have some raw veggie sticks or salad as well.

2) Add fruit to your salads or your main meal. For example, throw some apple slices or mandarin orange segments on your salad. Raisins are fantastic when added to couscous, quinoa, or rice.

3) Put the veggies on your plate first. If you put the protein and grains on your plate first, you're unlikely to leave enough space for your veggies. Fill up half your plate with the veggies first, then go from there.

4) You've heard it from me before, but here we go again! If you're not going to have a milk or alternative as your mealtime beverage, just have water. No pop, coffee, tea, or juice at meals.

In case all this talk of the US food guide has got you wondering what Canada's Food Guide looks like these days, here's a preview (for the full guide, go to the Health Canada website):

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