Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Myriads of Pyramids

When I was a kid, learning about food groups was kind of like learning your ABCs and everyone accepted it as fact. It was very simple then. There were only 4 food groups.

In the early 90's, the FDA came out with the food pyramid. I thought it was a good concept and was surprised the first time I heard people criticize the food pyramid. Many of the critics claimed that meat producers or other powerful food lobbies were influencing the government recommendations.

Before we tear the food pyramid apart, I think the concept of identifying different food groups and recommending optimal portions of those foods can be beneficial to the masses. Our bodies require some foods in greater abundance than others while some should only be used in moderation.

There have been several modifications to the FDA food pyramid as it has evolved over the years. The most recent version can be found at mypyramid.gov. This updated food pyramid version is not as easy to discern at first glance as prior ones have been. It also includes steps to remind people about the importance of exercise and physical activity in addition to their diet.

There are many different customized versions and knock offs of the food pyramid. Some of these include versions for bodybuilders, vegetarians, paleo, Mediterranean, etc. There are even joke pyramids which include the starving college student pyramid,  junk food pyramids, and a food pyramid for trapped Chilean miners which consists of tuna, milk, and crackers.

Regardless of what sort or pyramid you favor or what type of diet you prefer, it is important to remember the principles of balance, variety, and moderation when you eat. Customization is also an important concept since many people have different nutritional needs. Remembering these concepts can keep you from going to extremes and getting out of balance when it comes to your nutrition.

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