The New Food Pyramid
Each of these food groups provides some, but not all, of the nutrients you need. Foods in one group can't replace those in another. No one food group is more important than another - for good health, you need them all.
The Food Guide Pyramid is an outline of what to eat each day as established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). It's a general guide that lets you choose a healthful diet that's right for you. The main emphasis of the Pyramid is on the five major food groups, all of which are required for good health. The Pyramid calls for eating a variety of foods to get the nutrients you need and at the same time the right amount of calories to maintain or improve your weight.
When determining how many servings to eat, it is important to look at the serving size. Larger portions should count as more than one serving, and smaller portions will count as only a part of a serving.
The New Pyramid
In early 2005, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released the MyPyramid food guidance system at www.mypyramid.gov. Along with the new version of the food pyramid, the system provides many options to help Americans make healthy food choices and to be active every day. Below is information that can help you navigate through the new MyPyramid system to educate consumers.
The new pyramid itself is intended to emphasize the importance of physical activity, food variety, properly sized portions, moderation and the big advances that can be gained through gradual improvements exercise and lifestyle. The pyramid also emphasizes that, when it comes to food choices, personalization is important.
The basic messages about healthy eating and physical activity in the new food guidance system apply to everyone. These messages reflect the findings in the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans-developed by USDA and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). These messages, which can be found on the website, include:
Eat at least 3 ounces of whole-grain cereals, rice, or pasta every day.
Go low-fat or fat-free when you choose milk, yogurt, and other milk products.
Choose food and beverages low in added sugars.
The New Food Pyramid Enhancements
The new pyramid system's goal is to help busy consumers find the kinds and amounts of foods that is right for them. Because a one size fits all type of system just won't work, when a person visits the site and enters their age, gender and activity level, they get their own plan at a calorie level that is right for them. The system and the tools available at the site give Americans (and anyone else with internet access) the ability to personalize their approach to choose a healthier lifestyle that balances nutrition and exercise. Many people can dramatically improve their overall health by making modest improvements to their diets and by incorporating regular physical activity into their daily lives.
The food plan includes specific daily amounts from each food group and a limit for discretionary calories (fats, added sugars, alcohol). A person's food plan is taken from one of the 12 calorie levels of the food intake patterns from the Dietary Guidelines. Visitors can print out a personalized miniature poster of their plan, plus a worksheet to help track their progress and choose both short-term and long-term goals.
The new pyramid focuses on the importance of making smart food choices in every food group, every day. Important in the new pyramid is the addition of physical activity as a factor to consider when selecting food.
The website (www.mypyramid.gov) emphasizes:
Personalization - Providing personalized recommendation of the kinds and amounts of food to eat each day.
Gradual improvement - Showing how individuals can benefit from taking small steps to improve their diet and lifestyle each day.
Physical activity - Reminding visitors of the critical importance of daily physical activity.
Variety - Symbolized by the six color bands in the new pyramid. Foods from all groups are needed each day for good health.
Moderation - The wider base of each food group, narrowing from bottom to top, stands for foods with little or no solid fats, added sugars or caloric sweeteners.
Just as importantly the site offers tips and resources for getting started on a program. This includes downloadable suggestions on all the food groups and physical activity, and a worksheet to track what you are eating.