What is Food Pyramid?
A Food Pyramid is a guide stating the entire healthy food intake that our body requires regularly. The Pyramid is divided into groups or sections and recommends the intake of each group of food. This food Pyramid is extremely important for children as they need to know what food to eat everyday to help them in their growing years.
The food pyramid was first developed in Sweden in the year 1974. It was in the year 1992 that the most widely used food pyramid was introduced by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). It was later updated in 2005 and the name was changed to My Pyramid and then again worked upon in 2011 and was changed to MY Plate. Many other countries have developed a food Pyramid, but the one developed by the USDA followed everywhere.
What does the Pyramid Depict?
The food pyramid depicts the different food groups that are essential for the human body. The Pyramid is divided into five food groups, each group suggesting the nutrition required for a human body. Each food group is represented by a colored stripe, thin and bold. The thinner the stripe, the lesser the body needs of that food group. The pyramid also has a human figure climbing up the stairs, suggesting that everyone needs to grow and be active and the food groups help keep the body fit.
The five major food groups represented in the Pyramid is as follows,
- Dairy Products: This includes products produced from the milk of cows, goats etc. It includes milk, yogurt, and cheese. They are important because not only do they provide calcium but also protein, Vitamin A and Vitamin D. For adults skimmed products are useful as many dairy products contain fat. 3-4 servings of dairy products are essential.
- Fruits: This includes fruits like apple, orange, banana, mango etc. Fruits are a natural source of sugar, fiber and vitamins, especially vitamin C. They help in keeping skin healthy and digestion good. 2-4 servings of fresh fruits are essential.
- Vegetables: Vegetables include all fresh green, orange or dark green vegetables, the stem, root or flower of an edible plant is also a vegetable. Peas, cabbage, potato, spinach etc. are all healthy sources of nutrition. Vegetables contain Vitamin C, iron and calcium. They are very healthy and low in fat and calories. 3-5 servings of vegetables are essential.
- Meat, beans and nuts: Meat of animals is consumed by humans. Good meat like chicken, turkey, and fish should be eaten. Red meat or bacon have a lot of fat and cholesterol and thus should be avoided. Eggs, dry beans, tofu, soy and nuts can be an alternative source to meat. They are a major source of protein, iron, zinc and Vitamin B12. 2-3 servings of meat are essential.
- Grains: This includes all grains, lentils, breads, pasta, cereals and rice. This is a very important food group as it provides energy due to carbohydrates present in them. 6-11 servings of grains are essential.
Meaning of Serving
Serving doesn’t mean that the meal should be eaten at one time. If you eat ½ cup of pasta, that is 1 serving from the 6-11 servings per day. With that if you have a lunch of 2 chapattis, 1 green vegetable, 1 lentil, 1 piece of fish or chicken, salad and 1 cup yogurt; then you will be having servings from each food group. It is recommended to have 2 bowls of fruits everyday, 2 and ½ cup of vegetables, 3 ounces of whole grain products and 2-3 cups of low fat milk every day. This should be supported by regular exercise of at least 30 minutes.