Personal Trainer Andrew explains why you need to take Food Pyramid recommendations with a grain of salt… figuratively speaking, of course!
Have you heard of the Food Pyramid? It was the government’s attempt to influence our eating habits for the better. Unfortunately, like a lot of ideas dreamed up by politicians, those recommendations were heavily influenced by a variety of special interests like the dairy council and the corn lobbyists. So, in response to various criticisms, the Food Pyramid was replaced by MyPlate in 2011.
Response to MyPlate has been mixed, although most critics think it is a step in the right direction. It is easier to understand, but it doesn’t go far enough in terms of nutrition. The Harvard School of Public Health has developed its own Healthy Eating Plate which attempts to correct these deficiencies. You can view a comparison of MyPlate and the Healthy Eating Plate.
There are still some things to watch out for, however. Both “plates” encourage you to consume a high percentage of grains in your diet, although Harvard’s Healthy Eating Plate recommends whole grains rather than refined grains like white bread. Grains are a major source of carbohydrates, so your consumption of them needs to be managed in terms of your overall carbohydrate intake limits. Likewise, both plates encourage fruit consumption. The Healthy Eating Plate suggests that you should “eat plenty of fruits of all colors”. Keep in mind that fruits contain a lot of natural sugars. These are definitely better for you than refined sugars, but they are still sugars! We would recommend eating a moderate amount of fruit– for example one or two small pieces per day– preferably after your workout.
MyPlate is silent on fat, which is an essential macronutrient to have in your diet. Harvard’s Healthy Eating Plate recommends the use of healthy oils for cooking, which we agree with. But we don’t agree with their suggestion of using Canola Oil. Organic Extra Virgin Olive and Coconut Oil are better alternatives.
Finally, MyPlate encourages consumption of dairy products at every meal, which is not a good idea for most people. Nor is it good to drink lots of fruit drinks, even if they are 100% juice. All of these contain large amounts of sugar. Many of them have almost no fruit juice in them at all and are basically just colored sugar water! Instead, drink lots of water. Coffee and tea (preferably without sugar) in moderation are good alternatives. Avoid soda pop and limit fruit juice to just one small glass (4 oz) per day at most.
We hope these recommendations will help you make better choices about what you eat. For specific recommendations on your own diet, schedule a consultation with Andrew Bora.
Andrew offers a unique service: healthy shopping trips to the nearby Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods stores. Andrew will show you how to read food labels and explain what to look for. He’ll also explain how to make healthy choices and show you how to get the most value for your food dollar.