The Food Pyramid has been used for decades to show people what type (and how much) of individual foods they should eat every day for optimal health. Redesigned in 2005, the new pyramid sports a rainbow of colored, vertical stripes that represent the five major food groups, plus fats and oils.
Not sure what the colors stand for? Here’s a quick reference:
Orange – grains.
Green – vegetables.
Red – fruits.
Yellow – fats and oils.
Blue – milk and dairy products.
Purple – meat, beans, fish, and nuts.
The food pyramid is a used to illustrate the variety of foods people need to eat to stay healthy. The skinnier the band of color, the less foods you need to consumer in that category, and vice versa. As you will notice, eating a variety of healthy foods is best. The goal is to eat foods from each color band each and every day.
As you’ll notice when reviewing the new pyramid, some bands are fat on the bottom and get thinner as they reach the top. Why? Because foods are not created equal. While apple pie contains apples, it is not as good for you as a freshly picked apple straight form the tree! The same is true for a tomato vs. ketchup. The less nutritious variety of the food is depicted at the top thinner part of the pyramid, with the more nutritious item featured on the bottom.
One of the most important aspects of the food pyramid is the way it explains how many servings of individual categories a person should eat every day. This includes:
It’s important for children to eat 4-6 ounces of grains every day, depending on their age, while adults need more than 6 ounces to meet their daily requirements. Remember, whole grains are best.
Vegetables are especially important to a healthy diet. Children should eat ½ to 2 cups per day with adults consuming 2 ½ cups or more.
Fresh fruit is a very important nutrient for a well balanced diet. Keep in mind that while fruit juices and packaged fruit count on the slimmer part of the pyramid, fresh fruit is always best. So, how much fruit should you eat every day? Children need 1-½ cups per day, and adult 2 or more.
Milk and Other Calcium-Rich Foods:
Calcium builds strong teeth and bones and should be consumed on a daily basis. Children need a minimum of 1-2 cups of milk (0r other calcium rich food) every day, while adult (especially women) should be consuming 3 or more cups of dairy a day.
Meats, Beans, Fish, and Nuts:
For all of the iron and other important nutrients you need to stay healthy eat 3-5 ounces per day (for children) and 5-8 ounces (for adults).
Not sure that you’re eating the right amounts of food every day? Be sure to check your diet against the new food pyramid guidelines on a regular basis to ensure that you’re eating a well balanced diet for optimal health and fitness.