The 2005 Food Guide Pyramid
You've probably seen many pictures of the old food guide pyramid, displaying the food groups of bread, fruit, vegetables, dairy, and meat. The old pyramid received much criticism for recommending too many refined carbohydrates and not discriminating against how much a person should eat from each food group based on their age or sex.
The new pyramid, My Pyramid, differs from the old by stating one size does not fit all; it can help you choose the foods and amounts that are right for your level. On the website, www.mypyramid.gov (Note: ChoosingMyPlate.gov replaced MyPyramid.gov), you can enter your age, sex, and activity level and it will determine how many calories you should consume per day along with the number of recommended servings from each food group. If you don't have access to the Internet, this information can be obtained from your health care professional.
The basic messages of My Pyramid are as follows and can apply to people with or without diabetes:
- Make half your grains whole – People who eat whole grains as part of a healthy diet have a reduced risk of some chronic diseases, such as coronary heart disease. Eating 3 servings of whole grains daily may assist in weight management. Choose foods that name one of the following whole-grain ingredients first on the label's ingredient list: whole-wheat, whole-oat, barley, rye, brown rice, oatmeal, whole-grain corn, whole-rye. Once you make the whole-grain change, you won't even miss your white bread.
- Vary your veggies – Vegetables contain many nutrients that can fight against diseases such as coronary artery disease, high blood pressure and cancer. By eating a variety of vegetables you are getting a mix of vitamins and minerals. The different colors of vegetables signify the different nutrients in each. Fresh, frozen, raw, steamed, or even with a little low-fat dip, any way you can eat more veggies, the better you will be feeding your body.
- Focus on fruit – Fruits go in the same category with vegetables; they can help fight against some chronic diseases. The most common statement I hear from my patients regarding fruit is, " I like fruit, but I don't buy it anymore, because I don't eat it and it goes bad." This is because people are choosing other less healthful snack foods, such as chips or cookies (which could be the low-fat variety), in place of fruit. The bottom line is you should buy fruit and make a conscience decision to eat it. Plan it with your breakfast or take it with you for a snack.
- Get your calcium rich foods – Consuming milk and milk products provides health benefits, such as reducing the risk of low bone mass throughout the life cycle. Skim milk, reduced-fat cheese and light yogurt can make good additions to a meal or a nice snack by themselves. You can even make a smoothie with light yogurt and fruit to get in extra servings of fruit and calcium.
- Go lean with protein – Lean protein sources, such as chicken breast, fish, dry bean, and peas are better for heart health. Grilling, baking, and broiling are preferred cooking methods.
- Find your balance between food and physical activity – The health benefits of physical activity are endless, from lowering the risk of disease to increasing emotional well-being and decreasing stress, being physically active is a key element in living a longer, healthier, happier life. Find an activity you enjoy and fit it into your daily schedule. It can be as simple as taking a brisk 10-minute walk, gardening, or bike riding. What's important is to be active most days of the week.
The new pyramid definitely provides plenty of healthful information for everyone; check it out when you have a chance.
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One of my ongoing dietary issues has been one of protein. Right after diagnosis, I ran a bit scared of all of the "excess protein kills the kidneys" lines and into the old-school health-foods' "you don't need as much protein as you think you do" train of thought. Combined with the calorie and sodium restrictions of my initial diabetes diet, a move away from animal-based proteins because of my cholesterol levels, and a medication which seemed to block nutrient...