Food Group Pyramid, My Pyramid, My Plate, oh my! The face of nutritious eating has changed a lot since we were children. Let’s retrace the steps to understand its evolution to the current My Plate standards.
The original food pyramid was first developed in Sweden in 1972. The Swedish government released the pyramid guide amid a food crisis. In order to promote foods that were both healthy and inexpensive, these foods were displayed at the bottom of the pyramid creating its base. This was done to depict the necessity and importance of these staple foods. As the pyramid rose to the narrow peak, it had foods that were less healthy and of lower nutritious value. This was done to symbolize their low necessity.
Since then, more than 25 countries have created similar food pyramid guides, with the US releasing their first one in 1992. The original US food pyramid was divided into 6 sections and aimed to show recommended serving sizes by the proportion of each box. However, this food pyramid was criticized for not explaining what qualified as a serving size.
The US attempted to rectify this by creating My Pyramid in 2005 which represented serving size in ounces or cups. My Pyramid was a more abstract design that showed 6 colorful stripes in varying widths. The stripes ran the length of the whole pyramid from top to bottom to promote eating in moderation from all food groups, and had varying widths to represent which food groups were of more nutritious value. My Pyramid also incorporated steps to recognize the importance of exercise along with healthy eating.
In 2011, after 19 years of pyramid food guides, the US Department of Agriculture took a radical turn and created an entirely new design to promote visual simplicity and ease of healthy eating. The current design is a meal place setting showing a plate and cup divided into 5 sections (fruit, grain, vegetable, protein, dairy) of different sizes. The design is accompanied many times by slogans such as, “Make half of your grains whole,” ”Make half of your plate fruits and vegetables,” and “Vary your protein choices.”
For more information on the current design and how to incorporate it into a healthy lifestyle, please visit choosemyplate.gov.
Written by Mariela Villanueva