Word has it that there is to be a new food pyramid that wont be a pyramid. Instead, we are getting a simplified, plate-shaped symbol sliced into wedges representing basic food groups with half the plate filled with fruits and vegetables.
The new logo is to be released today. Apparently, the plate will consist of four colored sections (fruits, vegetables, grains and protein) and a small circle for dairy (such as 1 percent low-fat milk or yogurt). This new symbol is intended to underscore the healthier push of increased intake of fruits and vegetables its easier to understand while encouraging us to avoid high-calorie drinks and oversized helpings of food.
The pyramid was reworked as a directive from the Obama administration as part of Michelle Obamas campaign to encourage better eating habits and decreased obesity in our nation. Robert C. Post, deputy director of the Department of Agricultures Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, spent more than $2 million to develop and promote the logo as well as creating a website. Such a deal!
The original food-guide pyramid was reworked and released in 1992 after modifications were made to keep dairy and meat companies happy. Then in 2005, it was redesigned by the Department of Agriculture and the exercise component was added. Despite changes, it continued to be confusing from the get-go, and obesity issues continued to climb.
New dietary guidelines were presented in January that included a few key recommendations beyond increasing produce and plant intake (vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains and nuts). New guidelines focus on making changes in four key areas:
1. Calories. Balance caloric intake to achieve or maintain a healthier weight. An excess of 250 calories a day amounts to 24 pounds a year.
2. Saturated fats. As before, these should be limited to less than 10 percent of your total calories (butter, meat fat, margarine, coconut oil, shortening, heavy creams).
3. Grains. Unless you have a medical condition requiring the elimination of grains, six servings a day are recommended, with at least half being whole grains.
4. Sodium (salt). Because of increasing problems with high blood pressure, sodium recommendations continue to decrease to 2,300 milligrams daily. For those older than 51 or who have hypertension, diabetes or kidney disease, the level decreases to 1,500 mg daily. This requires avoiding virtually all chips, processed meats, sauces and canned vegetables as well as being light-handed with the salt shaker.
I find it interesting that we continue to be given simplistic guidelines that we already know but choose not to follow on so many levels. There is more to it, but marketing and affordability continue to impact purchases.
email@example.com or 247-4355. Wendy Rice is family and consumer science agent for the La Plata County Extension Office.