Food Pyramid replaced with ... lots of carbs?

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The government’s much maligned Food Pyramid has been replaced by this graphic of a dinner plate suggesting all the components of a well-balanced meal.

“When it comes to eating, what’s more simple than a plate?” First Lady Michelle Obama said Thursday morning as she helped unveil MyPlate, a new tool from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help Americans better understand sound nutritional standards.


While kudos are due to the first lady and the USDA for taking a stab at this, I’m not sure this new tool does the trick. Our colleagues in Health are working on getting the experts’ opinions on this new tool, so check back here for that. But what do you think about your first look at this new graphic? I’m no dietitian, but I find this new design totally unappetizing.

First off, it reminds me of a pie. But aside from that, doesn’t that look like an awful lot of carbs? That’s basically three servings of carbs if you choose the grains, fruit and dairy on this dinner plate. Perhaps the assumption is that that a diner will only choose at most two of these carby options with a meal. But that seems like a nuance that could be lost on people who need the guidance.

And then what about that dairy option? It looks to me like it’s encouraging a glass of milk, as it is placed in the traditional spot for drinks at a properly set table. But I thought conventional wisdom is that we should not be drinking our calories, but eating them. (Hmmm. I wonder if California Cows were called in as consultants.) Maybe that dairy symbol is suggesting a cup of yogurt, but again, that is a nuance that could be missed.

This graphic also doesn’t address the crucial need for healthy fats in the diet. Or what about those nutritional bogeymen, like trans fats or hydrogenated fats, and sugar and high fructose corn syrup?

Finally, given that there is only one point that all diets agree upon -- the need for more fresh vegetables -- wouldn’t a better, albeit more radical design, call for a dinner plate made up of 50% fresh, non-starchy vegetables, 25% protein, and the remaining 25% as -- choose just one -- grains, fruit or a starchy veg?

And then that glass of milk.

What do you think?

I do agree that the Food Pyramid needed to be revamped. I always thought the Food Pyramid could lead people to wrongly believe that fats and oils -- which were at the tippy top of the pyramid -- were more prized, or most important, and not something to be eaten only sparingly.


Bottom line, though, is that even if people start eating according to the dinner plate above, it will still likely be a move in the right direction. Right?


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--Rene Lynch
Twitter / renelynch