Out With The Food Pyramid..Bring In the Food Plate

The food pyramid traditionally epitomised what a person should be eating in order to be healthy. In recent months, the USDA (US Dept of Agriculture) announced it had scrapped the famous food pyramid and replaced it with a plate as a way of conceptualizing what one should be eating to be in good health.

In the beginning, first version of the food pyramid (above diagram) came out in 1992. With carbohydrates such as bread and spaghetti occupying a band along the base, it gave far less space to fruits and vegetables. It also suggested eating fats “sparingly,” which nutritional experts said ignored the benefits of foods with healthier forms of fat.

Now, after 2 decades, the USDA has introduced the food-plate, because it felt that the pyramid was confusing (“people ate out of a plate, not a pyramid”). The new plate specifies: fruits and vegetables should make up half the diet, with vegetables taking up a majority of the half. Grains and proteins (meat and fish, for example) should occupy the other half, with grains taking up a majority of that half.

The Food Plate - criticised as being too simple

No sooner as the announcement of the food-plate came, critics such as the the Harvard School of Public Health condemned it as being too simple and not sufficient to educate the public to make the right choices. Enter the Healthy Eating Plate.

Basically, Harvard’s plate has more specifics:

  • devote half the plate to fruit and vegetables, with more veggies than fruit. Potatoes are a no-no.
  • adding “whole” to the grain section, recommending we NOT choose refined grains like white rice and white bread, all in favor of  brown rice, whole-wheat bread and whole-grain pasta.
  • adding “healthy’ to the “protein” part of the plate, which  means opting for fish, poultry, beans and nuts, limiting red meat and avoiding bacon, cold cuts and processed meats entirely.
  • recommending a glass of water, tea or coffee (with very little sugar) rather than a glass of milk.

Have Harvard got it right? Seems to me food, like fashion, is continually evolving, so should we follow the crowd and remain trendy?

You can download a copy of the new Harvard Healthy Eating Plate here.


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