What’s on YOUR plate?
I’ve often said that if we followed the USDA’s Food Pyramid recommendations every day, then we would become a nation facing an epidemic of obesity! Evidently, I wasn’t the only one struggling with these guidelines. By now, you’ve likely heard about the new food pyramid…or rather, MyPlate.
As soon as it was announced, I was pleased with the improvements – most notably, the switch to a single serving or meal from an abstract “to do” list of what to one was supposed to consume in a given day. I also appreciate the move away from “Meat and Beans” to simply “Protein.” After all, whether you eat animal products or not, we’re all better served to have a variety of non-animal sources of protein. It will come as no surprise that I’m particularly pleased with the vegetable category, and while there are lots of vegetables that could fill this section, the very fact that it is green thrills me to no end! And finally, while dishes are traditionally round, there’s something whole and and complete about this filled-in circle that I very much like.
There are, however, ideas that are represented in this plate motif that I struggle with. Since I left off with the beautiful “whole” image of the circle, let’s start there. What’s with the Mickey Mouse ear added to the circle? Doesn’t dairy fall under protein? Why does it need its own circle? Is there sound nutritional findings that support this, or is it more a symbol of the strength of the dairy lobby? And while it’s somewhat more advanced, what about food combining? Does this approach of eating everything in each sitting allow us to get the most out of the foods we eat, or does it ultimately weaken our digestive strength and lead to acidity and imbalance?
I’d also like to see the word “whole” in front of grains. I’m not sure anyone is benefiting from the quantity of bread, crackers, cookies…that we consume in this country. Over the past few years in particular, as gluten-free has become in greater demand, there has been a surge in the number of processed grain, high-sugar, snack foods on the market. These items offer more fast, convenient and gluten-free options, but score much lower when it comes to nutritional value. Somehow we need to cut back on these “filler-foods” (as I describe them to my children), and empower people to increase the whole grains that pack a stronger nutritional punch.
And finally, while I appreciate the rainbow of colors used in this image, I do wish that somewhere in this model there could be room to teach people to eating a rainbow of color and all five tastes! As is stated in CLEAN FOOD,
Eat all the colors of the rainbow
Eat all five tastes
Eat a varied diet
Eat locally grown and seasonal foods
Enjoy your meal and mealtime.
There’s much work ahead to become a nation with healthy eating habits and a sustainable and nutritionally sound food chain. And in spite of its inherent weaknesses, I think MyPlate represents a step in the right direction towards educating and empowering us all to Eat Clean and Live Well!