Over the years many food guides have been published to assist the public with making healthy food choices. These guides all try to follow four basic goals:
1. Benefit overall health without promoting specific diets or focusing on specific diseases
2. Form statements around the most current and correct dietary science
3. Focus on all aspects of the diet
4. Build on the strengths of previous food guidelines.
The most common food guidelines are the 1992 United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Guide Pyramid, the 2005 USDA MyPyramid, and the USDA MyPlate (2011).
The 1992 USDA Food Guide Pyramid was published. This image stacks food groups with the group with the largest recommended intake on the bottom and smallest on top. This pyramid portrays grains and carbohydrates as the most important food group. The main errors with this illustration are that it can be confusing to read and that it does not specify what types of foods to eat within each food group. For example, it says to eat 6-11 servings of grains but does not recommend which types to eat; in past blog posts we have established that not all carbohydrates are equal.
1992 USDA Food Guide Pyramid
Fats and Oils
In 2005 the USDA introduced a revised version of the MyPyramid. This new model depicts the food categories in a more vertical fashion implying that it is necessary to eat from each food group. With that said this pyramid still depicts carbohydrates as the food group with the highest recommended servings. Another modification to the pyramid was the addition of the exercise component. The side of the pyramid is a set of stairs with the purpose of encouraging the public to be active and pair a healthy diet with physical activity. Downfalls of this guideline include: the confusing display and the heavy emphasis on carbohydrates.
2005 USDA MyPyramid
Fats and Oils
Then, in 2011, Michelle Obama helped unveil the newest dietary guideline called MyPlate. This guide is designed around what each meal should look like and it supposed to be used in conjuncture with the rest of the content on choosemyplate.gov. This recommendation permits flexibility meaning that it allows people to substitute foods for an equal alternative. For example, fat free yogurt can substitute fat free milk because it supplies the same nutrients. This new visual also eliminates some of the confusion of the other guides because it is a great representation of what individual meals should look like on average and it is an easy image for children to understand. However, it does not supply the public with enough information to help them choose healthy food options. Because this model is supposed to be used with the rest of the website those without access to it are left with too vague of a description of a healthy diet. Additionally, MyPlate does not address that some food choices are healthier than others in a food group; for instance, potatoes are healthier than french fries.
Vegetables and Fruits
Fats and Oils
MyPlate is a tool created by the USDA used to help illustrate what a healthy meal looks like in terms of proportion and variety. The take home message from this post is that nutritional science is progressing; in the sense that each day we learn more and apply that knowledge by editing the recommendations of a healthy meal or daily dietary requirements. The 1992 MyPyramid, 2005 MyPyramid, and 2011 MyPlate images are tools that prove the evolution of our understanding.
Davis, C. A., Britten, P., & Myers, E. F. (2001). Past, present, and future of the food guide pyramid. American Dietetic Association.Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 101(8), 881-5. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.gvsu.edu/docview/218404938?accountid=39473
Fuhrman, J. (2011, June 15). Disease Proof : Disease Proof : Health & Nutrition News & Commentary : Dr. Joel Fuhrman. Retrieved November 22, 2015, from http://www.diseaseproof.com/archives/news-usda-replaces-mypyramid-with-myplate.html
Out with the Pyramid, In with the Plate. (n.d.). Retrieved November 22, 2015, from http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/plate-replaces-pyramid/
Sizer, F., & Whitney, E. (2012). Nutrition Tools – Standards and Guidelines. In Nutrition: Concepts and Controversies (12th ed., p. 45-47). Belmont, California: Yolanda Cossio.
Whitney, E., & Rolfes, S. (2013). Planning a Healthy Diet. In Understanding Nutrition (13th ed., p. 45-47). Belmont, California: Yolanda Cossio.