Food Pyramid!!! Have you heard about it? Is it a pyramid stacked up with delicious food!!! Did you know it’s actually a visual guide for healthy eating?
I remember coming across the term “Food Pyramid” when I was pursuing a degree in Nutrition and Dietetics. Though the pyramid was introduced way back, I was a layman till I entered this field. I found the idea of the pyramid really fascinating, since it was easy for anyone to understand just by taking a look at it. Not only had it given the options of healthy foods but also the portion that has to be incorporated. Thinking of the pyramid, I can still clearly visualize the colorful triangular form with images of bread, milk carton, fish, chicken drumstick, and burgers dancing in front of my eyes.
The Food Pyramid is a visual representation of different foods and drinks which contribute in maintenance of healthy balanced diet. Various healthy options are included in pictorial form providing individuals the flexibility to choose and incorporate any foods and drinks from each section depending on their personal food preferences. Generally the pyramid contains 5 different sections, with bottom shelf indicating the foods to be consumed in large portion as compared to remaining ones.
The very first food pyramid was created in 1970s in Sweden. When the price of foodstuffs hiked up, there were numerous street protests carried out by public, after which government decided to combine nutritionally balanced meals which can be bought at reasonable price. Hence in 1974, the pyramid made up of 3 parts was presented to the public with the message “A good, healthy diet at a reasonable price”. This concept of representing dietary recommendations visually then spread to different countries like Japan, Denmark, Sri Lanka, United States, and many other countries including Nepal as well, with their own modifications according to food available.
Nepal first published its customized food-based dietary guidelines in 2004, and the revised version along with the food pyramid named as “Food Temple” was introduced in the year 2012. The Food Temple was developed by World Food Programme (WFP) in collaboration with the Government of Nepal for School Feeding Programme. It is created on the concept of “Food Temple” in order to promote nutritious dietary practices.
According to Nepalese Food Pyramid the rules are:
Whole Grains like different kinds of millets, rice, roots and tubers like potato, sweet potato were recommended to consume adequately. However the amount depends upon the age, gender and activity level of the individual.
Any kind of pulses, beans and legumes have to be consumed regularly since they are one of the major sources of protein.
All types of fruits and vegetables have to be consumed moderately and try to incorporate them in your meals for including different types of nutrients.
Most of the animal products like milk and milk products, meat and meat products, eggs, fish has to be consumed less according to other three sections.
Fat products like ghee, oil and sweets are combined and placed at the top shelf, asking the individual to consume in fewer amounts.
WHAT DOES IT LACK? IS IT MISLEADING?
Though the food pyramid is still followed in many more countries, some have modified the pyramid as a whole or changed the way of representing dietary recommendations as Food plate (United States), Flag (Thailand), Pagoda (China), Rainbow (Canada), and Spinning top (Japan). The government’s dietary recommendations have stayed remarkably similar throughout the years. Promoting generous consumption of all type of carbohydrates, and eschewing all types of fats and oils are misleading guidance. Since not all fats are harmful for you, as some types are essential to our health and even can reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Also, high consumption of all types of carbohydrates is not beneficial for the individual. The inclusion of fruits and vegetables in third shelf is not completely appropriate since these food groups not only contain macronutrients but are also incorporated with diverse essential micronutrients.
So it is really important to modify our pyramid on the basis of years of advances in the nutritional science. Incorporating basic hydration amount as well as physical activity duration in the pyramid along with food is better to understand.
We in Mitahar consider the pyramid with required modifications, and create a diet plan considering the food groups as well as portion size customized according to your need, age, BMI as well as preference. So you can contact us if you want “Balanced and Customized Diet Plan”.