What Should I Eat?

by David Egan on September 16, 2011

HealthyPlate_9.9.11

For decades, nutritionists used the “food pyramid” to give people advice on how to eat well – now there’s a far better way to guide your family towards healthy eating habits.

The pyramid was developed by the US Dept. of Agriculture, and it had some major flaws. It was heavily influenced by the food industry, who had an obvious business interest in the message that it sent out – and the pyramid gave the impression that sweets and other empty calorie foods were a normal part of a healthy diet. In fact they’re not – it’s entirely possible to have a healthy diet without consuming junk food!

The US government have recognised this, and have scrapped the food pyramid in favour of the new Healthy Eating Plate. We think that this is an excellent step forward, but the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health have gone one step further and released the improved version of the plate that you see above.

Hunt the Pyramid!

Unfortunately, the old defunct pyramid is still in widespread usage – even some nutritionists (who should know better!) are still using it. Keep an eye out for the food pyramid – you might see it on the wall of your child’s school, in a health centre, or even in your child’s textbook.

Make your child’s school or teacher aware that the advice has been updated, and that the pyramid is out of date. They will appreciate the advice – and you can let them know that they can access the improved Healthy Plate here. Even better, they can download the Harvard School of Public Health version at this link – and the image is freely downloadable for educational purposes.

How Do I Follow the Advice?

Basically, all of our healthy eating resources are founded on the healthy plate – so our website should give you practical tips on having a healthy diet. But really, the advice boils down to the following tips:

  • Eat plenty of fruit & vegetables – aim for fruit & veg at every meal
  • Pick healthy protein sources – lean meat, fish, nuts
  • Eat wholegrains – brown bread rather than white
  • Drink water not sugary drinks
  • Choose healthy oils (like olive oil)
  • Avoid junk food!
  • Get PLENTY of exercise

Have you seen the old food pyramid lurking anywhere? Leave a comment below and let us know!

The Healthy Eating Plate image above is owned by the Harvard University: Copyright © 2011, Harvard University. For more information about The Healthy Eating Plate, please see The Nutrition Source, Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, www.thenutritionsource.org, and Harvard Health Publications, health.harvard.edu.

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