The old food pyramid from 1992:
To find out more about the Pyramid's hidden messages, I log on to www.MyPyramid.gov. This website, offers an remarkable amount of helpful information.
Each wedge in the Pyramid represents a different food group. The orange stands for grains, green for vegetables, red for fruit, yellow for oil, blue for dairy, and purple for meat and protein-rich foods.
· The variety of colorful wedges symbolizes the variety of foods that we need to form a balanced diet.
· The wedges have a broad base and a narrow top. This symbolizes that we should choose portion sizes that vary according to our calorie needs. No longer is the message “one size fits all.”
· The wedges also suggest we should eat a big base of nutrient dense foods and taper off our intake of foods with less nutritional value, including foods with fats and sugars. (That is, eat more apples, less apple pie; enjoy more baked potato, fewer potato chips.)
· The stairs symbolize the message of taking small steps to a healthier lifestyle.
· The person running up the stairs symbolizes the importance of daily exercise. (The one clear message?)
· The person also symbolizes the Pyramid can be personalized. That is, at www.MyPyramid.gov, you can get a food plan based on your estimated calorie needs. (Mind you, these calorie suggestions do not take into account your height or weight; just your age and level of activity.) The website offers excellent information including tips to help you eat more of the foods that will invest in good health.
Eating according to the Pyramid
With your personalized on-line food plan, you can learn how much to eat of each type of food. The guidelines for an 1,800 calorie food plan (a minimal amount for most athletes) are:
1.5 cups of fruit and/or juice per day. This is easy for athletes: A smoothie with a banana, berries and orange juice will do that job!
2.5 cups per day, with a variety of colors. A salad tossed with tomato, peppers, carrots, and baby spinach fulfills the veggie requirement, no sweat.
Six ounces of grain foods, of which at least half are whole grain. (Look for whole before the grain name on the ingredient list.) One ounce = 1 slice of bread or 1/2 cup pasta or rice. Eating whole grain Wheaties at breakfast and a lunchtime sandwich on rye bread can balance the dinner’s white pasta.
3 cups low fat or fat-free milk or yogurt. Two ounces of cheese equates to one cup of milk.
Meat and alternatives:
5 ounce equivalents. One ounce of meat = 1 egg = 1 Tbsp peanut butter = 1/2 oz. nuts. This translates into a small portion of a protein-rich food at two meals per day.
The bottom line
Take mealtimes seriously; enjoy a variety of colorful foods; eat moderately & stay active.