6/2/11

From Pyramid to Plate: A Change in Nutrition History

Just this morning the USDA revealed its new Food Icon. For years we've been accustomed to seeing versions of the Food Pyramid on posters, cereal boxes and bread. But now, we welcome in a new Food Icon to complement the 2010 Dietary Guidelines released earlier this year.

 So let's start from the beginning. The first set of guidelines came out in 1880's and was only for men. In the 1920's and 1940's the first food icon was introduced as a wheel of seven food groups. Additional icons were introduced throughout the 20th century. For a nutrition history slideshow, click here.


The Original Food Pyramid

The very first Food Pyramid was a basic visual, identifying food groups and quantity, introduced in 1992. The basic premise was that larger the section, the more you would eat of that food category. However, people were still a little confused. Consumers still weren't sure what types of grains were best, what the appropriate portion size was and how to translate recommendations to restaurants, sandwiches, soups, casseroles, etc.

Then, the Food Pyramid received a makeover. The pyramid was turned on its side, given a new coat of paint, and stairs were added to stress the importance of physical activity. Consumers remained confused on what specific foods to choose within each group, what an actual serving size looked like and how to determine the calories needed by each unique person.

The Food Pyramid, version 2


Fast forward to this morning -- on June 2 at 9:45 am (CST), Michelle Obama and Tom Vilsack with the USDA released the newest Food Icon - My Plate http://www.choosemyplate.gov/
The basic guidelines for My Plate are as follows:

The new Food Icon, 2011


Balancing Calories:
Enjoy your food, but eat less.
Avoid oversized portions.

Foods to Increase:
Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
Make at least half your grains whole grains.
Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.

Foods to Reduce:
Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread and frozen meals ― and choose the foods with lower numbers. Drink water instead of sugary drinks. 

Here is some of the social media buzz from this morning:
1. Where does physical activity come in?
2. How will consumers know the best type of lean protein, dairy, grains, etc.?
3. How will consumers be encouraged to use 9-10" plates instead of the platters we are used to?
4. Where is the guidance on alcohol, sweets, added fats, fried foods, etc.?
5. This is a great and simple teaching tool for kids!
6. How will this translate to pizzas, sandwiches, soups, etc., that don't fit the plate model?

What do you think? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

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