Why The Food Pyramid Is Both Right And Wrong

The food pyramid is the most recognizable and relied upon icon of what to eat and what not to eat in the United States. The original food pyramid came from Sweden in 1974. Our modern food pyramid here in the United States was adopted in 1992, updated in 2005 and actually replaced in 2011.

There has been much written about the recent 60 Minutes report on the potentially devastating health consequences of eating too much sugar. The fascinating side story that was apparent in the 15-minute piece was the glacial pace by which new food studies are undertaken.  They are both expensive and time consuming when done correctly.  So the result is much of what we have presently about general understandings about food. Basically, we aren’t well updated or informed.

Without the aid of independent studies to update our knowledge of what is and isn’t nutritious, we are left to the latest claims of companies who have a vested interest in getting you to buy their food products.  In fact those claims and how they are packaged to craft a message, probably do as much or more to shape our knowledge of what is healthy eating as the food pyramid. 

Be honest. You probably didn’t even know the food pyramid had been replaced? This goes back to the reality of slow dispersal of knowledge about healthy eating. The principles of the food pyramid as we know it will live on in our attitudes and choices far beyond the date of replacement.  With that reality in mind, I want to address the issue of carbohydrates and how the food pyramid as many of us came to understand it, makes a critical recommendation error.

In our mind memory we probably see the foundation of the pyramid diagram with breads and grains. Remember, these are products (with the exception of rice), which are reconstituted by man in some form of machine processing. Wheat and corn (not including sweet corn which is different than corn for milling) are generally not edible direct from the ground. The reason behind the USDA’s high emphasis on bread products from whole grains has always been the fiber and carbohydrate benefits.

Even today, the emphasis on eating such foods lives on with the new plate USDA “My Plate”. How this ties into to the 60 Minutes report about sugar health risks, is there is a substantial and growing body of knowledge that the processed and sweetened nature of many bread products offsets the carbohydrate benefits. It also ignores a more natural source of carbohydrates and fiber found in fruits and vegetables.

So the food pyramid or “My Plate” is right about the need for certain important nutritional building blocks, but ignores the nature of how each food delivers those building blocks. Bread products, whole grain or not, have corresponding effects on body chemistry that will tend to lead to more fat storage and the introduction of more foreign chemicals and processed sugars into our systems. This is the nature of processed foods of any kind.  

The hope is that the USDA will recognize and state the obvious of the fundamental differences between produce and a food that is sweetened and the result of human production such as bread. It is a simple but important distinction that could possibly turn the tide on obesity, heart disease, and cancer risks.


About the Author–

Cheryl Boswell is a writer and researcher on home fitness and health products. You can save time and money by getting FREE in depth news, features, and reviews on home exercise equipment, workout programs, health, and nutrition, including discounts and best prices at http://bodyslimdown.com

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