Food Guide Pyramid: Nutrition or Not?

The concept of the food pyramid was originally conceived by Danish scientists in 1978. In 1992, the United States adopted a similar model, which is what we now know as the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Guide Pyramid. The pyramid evolved from the classic model of horizontal bricks filled with different food types to a pyramid with smaller sections inside. More recently, it has been replaced by the USDA's new model, MyPlate.

When it was first created, the USDA Food Guide Pyramid was the ultimate standard in what all Americans should eat. But with decades of new research since its advent, we must question the once tried-and-true pyramid and ask ourselves: Is it nutritious or not?

Nutritional values vs. basic guidelines

The Food Guide Pyramid doesn't give specific nutritional values; rather, it's a model used to illustrate the variety of foods -- and the proper proportions of foods -- that a person should eat. Variety is something most Americans lack in their diets, particularly when it comes to vegetables and carbohydrates. The pyramid encourages the consumption of healthy whole grains and a hefty amount of green vegetables, which are known to be extremely beneficial and an excellent source of dietary vitamins.

Emphasizing moderation of fats and sugars

One of the most crucial concepts the pyramid illustrates is moderation when it comes to fats and sugars. Bad fats (like trans fats) and foods with added sugars (like soda) are known to contribute to obesity. The guide recognizes that, while people do eat these things, they should only do so in small amounts.

Is it nutrition or not?

Each body is different. The Food Guide Pyramid is just that -- a guide. It's a general guide to better dietary health. In that way, it is beneficial. But it's not a roadmap to your own personal diet. You have to eat the foods (and the right amount of foods) that are best for you, as determined by your doctor, nutritionist or certified dietitian.

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