MyPyramid: The Colorful, Customized Food Guide
Louis Neipris, M.D., HealthAtoZ Writer
Remember the old Food Guide Pyramid that looked like a nutritional "Hollywood Squares," starring Grains, Fruits, Vegetables, Dairy, Beef, and Fats? People found this image hard to grasp. Now, just think colors, shape and action, and you'll master the new USDA food pyramid. The revised version is a complete makeover of the old Food Guide Pyramid. The new version, called "MyPyramid, Steps to a Healthier You," is equipped with colored blocks and a figure climbing steps, a single image that stands for a few key concepts.
COLORS MEAN FOOD GROUPS
Each color is a pie slice, with one wide edge at the base. All the colored slices join together to form the tip of the pyramid. Each color represents a food group:
- Orange - grains
- Green - vegetables
- Red - fruits
- Yellow - oils and fats
- Blue - milk and other calcium-rich foods
- Purple - meats and beans
Width means proportion
The width of each slice differs. The wider wedges - Orange, green, red and blue - represent the food groups from which you need the most foods each day (grains, vegetables, fruit and dairy). The thinner purple slice (meats and beans) represents proteins, from which you need to choose daily. However, you should choose fewer, leaner servings from this group. Finally, the barely visible yellow wedge (fats) is the group from which you should choose most sparingly.
Climbing steps means "be active"!
You will notice a figure walking up the steps of the pyramid. When you think of MyPyramid, associate eating right with activity. Whatever you choose to do - jogging, swimming or more walking - is up to you and your doctor. The goal is for you to associate the action figure with exercise and to combine diet with exercise.
The staircase means one step at a time
MyPyramid's staircase symbolizes a "one-step-at-a-time" approach to eating right and exercise.
So, where's the food?
Rather than overwhelm you with images of different foods and numbers of servings per day, MyPyramid is meant to be a simple symbol to get you off on the right foot. While the old Food Guide Pyramid attempted to present a lot of information in one place (including the names of foods), MyPyramid is intended to help you grasp the following concepts:
- We need all "colors" (food groups) in our diet.
- The thicker the colored slice, the more we need from that food group.
- Activity is an important factor in staying healthy.
- MyPyramid is your pyramid.
Build your own food pyramid
You can learn to build your own food pyramid. Your own medical condition or dietary preferences will come into play. These are the building blocks you'll need:
- Food groups: Look at all food groups and see how your diet compares. For example, ask yourself, "Do I eat fruits and vegetables every day?"
- Servings: You need to get a certain amount of each food group in "servings per day" or "ounces per day." Use a quantity that you will remember.
- Specifics: Each food group comes with instructions. Learn them one step at a time. For example, you need to have foods from the grains group, but you also need whole grains. Strive for one half in whole grains.
- Exercise: Everyone's activity or exercise program is unique. Talk to your doctor before starting any exercise program. However, the basic idea is simple: Even a little can go a long way. Incorporate exercise or increased activity into your daily life. Choose things you enjoy.