This past summer a monumental change in the governments direction on how we should view the foods we should eat took place. It happened more quietly than I think the government would have liked but the change has been made. In addition to a change in shape from Pyramid to Plate, the contents of the new plate are quite different. The first USDA food pyramid was launched in 1992 and had at it’s base, grains, which would have the late Dr. Atkins turning over in his grave.
This food pyramid was the guiding principal to government lead food programs like school lunches, food stamps and W.I.C.
The pyramid was updated in 2005 to resemble a crazed pyramid shaped rainbow that required a degree in Mathematics to understand, or at the very least a tutorial on how to apply the pyramid to your daily life .
I’m pretty sure they were just trying to encourage us to eat more skittles or jelly beans. I honestly don’t even recall seeing this one get released. It must have come in with a whimper.
So now when you reach the top of the pyramid steps you get a plate. The governments new plan is a much more accessible and easy to understand diagram. Everyone knows how pie works.
Not only is the plate easier to understand as a concept it actually allows for someone to organize a meal with the appropriate volumes. I’m certain we can look forward to appropriately sized plates for school lunch programs where all a School Chef needs to do is place the right volume of the right food into a section (I was actually really impressed by the passion of the “lunch ladies” in the previous link, it was cool to see.)
Amidst all of the discussion of late about Pizza becoming a vegetable it is important to see some of the effort the government is taking to help people eat better. Say all you want about nanny states protecting us from ourselves, when it comes to kids, and schools being the only place they might get 2 meals a day, I like seeing some progress towards meals that will be healthier.
While the plate on its surface, has many of the same issues as the old pyramids; like a lack of specific examples and details on portion sizes, the web page and PDFs mention whole grains specifically and portion sizing as important concepts. Marion Nestle had some really interesting thoughts on why the plate works, and where it doesn’t go far enough.
All in all I think it is a move in the right direction and I’m happy to say hello to the plate and goodbye to the pyramid.