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The Food Guide Pyramid




In 2005, the U.S. government updated its Food Guide Pyramid. The old pyramid was designed to remind people of what they should eat to stay healthy. But the government wanted to do a better job of teaching Americans that people need to both exercise and eat right to stay healthy. So they redesigned the pyramid to show a person climbing stairs to illustrate how physical activity can be as important as food when it comes to our health.

The pyramid is now called MyPyramid because it's all about healthy lifestyle choices (not just food) and how these need to be personalized depending on the individual.

A Guide to Healthy Living

The pyramid shows food groups as a series of differently sized colored stripes:

  • orange for grains
  • green for vegetables
  • red for fruit
  • yellow for fats and oils
  • blue for dairy
  • purple for meats, beans, and fish

The stripes are different widths to show how much of a person's daily food intake should be made up of that food group. So the orange band is much wider than the yellow one because people need to eat a lot more grains than fats and oils.

What we eat is tied to how much we exercise. Teens need to eat well to get the nutrients that help the body grow. But

teens who are extremely active need additional food so they can fuel their activity levels in addition to their growth. And people who are less active need to eat less food so they can avoid gaining weight.

The Food Guide Pyramid helps people remember the following key points:

Combine exercise with eating well. The figure climbing stairs at the side of the pyramid reminds us that exercise benefits every part of our bodies, including the mind. Experts now know that exercise fights off a range of possible health problems like heart disease, diabetes, and even depression. Teens need more than 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise every day to stay healthy.

Eat a variety of foods. The different color bands in the pyramid send the message that it's important to eat lots of different foods. Not only does eating a variety of foods provide a good balance of nutrients, it also keeps our taste buds entertained!

Eat foods in moderation. The colored bands that show each food group are wider at the bottom of the pyramid than they are at the top. That's a reminder to people that they can eat lots of some foods in each group but that other foods in this group should be limited. Foods at the bottom of each section include those with little or no solid fats and little or no added sugars or sweeteners. So in the fruit food group, people should eat whole, fresh apples more often than apple pie. Likewise, when it comes to the grains food group, a person should choose more whole-grain products, such as whole-wheat pasta instead of regular pasta. Another example is in the dairy group, where people should get most of their dairy intake from low-fat milk instead of cream cheese or other high-fat dairy products.

Practical Advice on Eating Right and Exercise

Americans are getting heavier and less healthy - kids and te

ens as well as adults. A lot of this is because we're becoming a nation of couch potatoes. We're spending more time in front of computer screens and TV sets than meeting up with friends and playing sports. We're sitting in cars instead of walking or biking to our destinations.

The government is worried about the trend toward a fatter America because of all the health problems overweight people can have. What used to be referred to as adult diseases - such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease - are now also seen in teens. So in addition to using the pyramid as a way to remind people to eat right and

exercise, the government designed a website, called MyPyramid, to give specific food and exercise guidelines.

At this site, you can get personalized recommendations about which foods to eat and how much - including estimates of the number of calories needed to stay at a healthy weight. To create a personal profile that shows what you should eat for your age,

gender, and activity level, visit the MyPyramid site (click on the Resources tab for a link to the website).

Reviewed by: Barbara P. Homeier, MD
from : http://kidshealth.org

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