The food pyramid was created by the USDA to guide North Americans to a healthier lifestyle with respect to their food. As noble as this attempt may have been, it actually produced disastrous results.
Food Pyramid – 1992
A guy like me could spend all day dismantling this particular piece of propaganda, but lets just take 5 minutes to dismantle it.
First of all, the biggest group is what we could affectionately call the grain group. It says 6-11 servings a day are required of this group to maintain a healthy diet. If the general public took this to heart, and I suspect they did with gusto, it would be an awesome explanation for the grain and gluten intolerances that have erupted in the last decade due to massive overconsumption of this group.
Fruits and Vegetables
Now, the fruits and vegetables group get a respectable daily suggestion of 5-9 servings. Doesn’t look to bad on the face of it, but the actual consumption and ratio of this group to the others is what is disturbing. More on that in a minute.
Then the milk, yogurt, and cheese group get 2-3 servings. As an aside, I’ll eat my hat if this is actually all the public consumes. (Check out my recent blog Milk – Does It Really Do the Body Good? for a more in depth look at this habit).
Lets move on to the meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs, and nuts group. Or as I affectionately call it – the rib eye, big mac, and chicken finger group. Again, 2-3 servings are recommended. A big fat LOL seems appropriate at this point, as many Americans manage to finish this off at breakfast in pork alone. The only beans hitting a persons plate are brown ones swimming in a sea of sugar, and the only nuts I see being consumed are the mixed kind at Christmas.
Then they combine fats, oils, and sweets as a category (perhaps “sugar” would be a better description). No discretion as to the types of fats and oils (I would suggest we would not use coconut oil only “sparingly”). I would have to assume they are referring to hydrogenated fats, vegetable oils, and refined sugar to which I respond “how about never”?
Some important points I would like to bring up…
Acid yielding foods make up 17 total servings (grains, dairy, and animal protein – we will stroke the nuts in this case) while the alkaline yielding foods make up 9. Percentage wise that encourages 65% acid forming foods and 35% alkaline forming. Ideally, this should be flipped in order to create a proper ph balance, which ultimately creates optimal health. (pH Balance – The Fish Tank Phenomena addresses this subject in more depth).
Notably absent is any recommendation to eat organic (or chemical free) food at any level, which is likely more of a reflection of the pillow talk between chemical companies like Monsanto and the government, than the USDA’s ignorance on the subject. Although, some would argue they are neck and neck.
To the USDA’s credit, they came out with an updated food pyramid to address the progression of what we now understand about health and called it MyPyramid.
OK, wait…someone help me here…this is supposed to be progressive? Did they hold a contest for 7th graders?
Ok, so now it’s “MyPyramid” so they could add in the exercise component. Fair enough. Then they add colourful bands but no definite amounts are added to the graphic to know how much we can eat of each group. In fact, after 10 minutes of searching I was unable to find this information.
Grains still appear to get the lion’s share, and fruits and vegetables combined still appear less than or even to dairy and animal products. It appears oils are the thin yellow line so is still getting no love.
A more detailed description of the grains tells us that half of them should be whole grains, meaning the other half can be refined. They also provide a valuable tip to look for enriched in the ingredients as a sign that valuable ingredients that have been stripped are put back in. Oy.
The USDA also indicates that when you are choosing milk products that they should be low fat, or fat-free. In other words, you should be inclined to consume artificial sweeteners so you can increase your levels of formaldehyde (you do want to be preserved, don’t you?). It also goes on to say if you want to increase your bone mass, you should stick with the milk. What it doesn’t tell you is that its acid forming, which strips minerals including calcium from your bones, which actually creates the opposite effect. Well, at least they’re trying.
In the protein foods group, we are warned to watch out for processed meats such as sausage, frankfurters, and deli meats because they have added sodium. They also mention that “salt or sodium containing solutions” have been added to some of these products, but never mention what these mysterious solutions may be…my hint would be have a looksee for nitrites. Maybe that’s the word they were looking for but couldn’t get a handle on?
The least explained groups are fruits and vegetables. The PR department must have been exhausted word smithing all the previous categories and had nothing left for these areas.
In the end, the food pyramid does little to tout the benefits of the foods we should be eating, and goes a long ways in explaining those we shouldn’t.
Perhaps the writer wasn’t inspired about fruits, vegetables, and alkaline yielding foods after consuming their acid yielding Starbucks and refined grain flour and sugar laden donut.
Yawn…stretch. Time for a nap on the people’s dime.
The Silver Lining Update: My Food Pyramid is now Choose My Plate; another revision that tried to further simplify what is the most confusing topic on the planet – health.
If you would like to learn more about ways to improve your health, please visit http://ganocoffeebenefits.com/