The USDA recently released a new food pyramid, this time not in the shape of a pyramid! It seems like they are accelerating the production of these things, as the most recent pyramid didn’t come all that long ago.
Pros of the new pyramid (er, plate):
- The shape is pretty intuitive – it makes more sense to visualize how much of each meal is taken up by each type of food.
- Fruits and vegetables take up half the plate, which is excellent.
- Grains are down from the original 6-11 servings to a little over a quarter of the plate.
Cons of the new plate:
- Protein only gets about 1/5 of the plate. Not ideal for most people, for whom the ideal protein intake is much higher than the government recommends.
- Grains and dairy are both included as essential parts of your meal. In fact, both are unnecessary. They can be fine in moderation, depending on tolerance, source, and goal, but they definitely aren’t required.
- Fruit is similarly optional, and consumption should be highly goal-dependent, although fruit has much less potential to do harm, so I don’t mind so much.
- There is no information on what sources are ideal for each food type. There’s a big difference between meat protein and tofu protein. Likewise, bleached white flour is technically a grain, but sprouted grain products are infinitely better choices. I do grant that for simplicity’s sake, it would be hard to fit this type of info on the plate.
In the end, the plate is a big step up from the pyramid, especially the original one. It’s intuitive and focuses heavily on fruits and vegetables. There are certainly flaws, which would keep me from recommending it over better nutritional guidelines, but at least we’re getting somewhere.